Jewish Literary Links for Shabbat

  • André Aciman writes about Irène Némirovsky.
  • Joan Leegant’s remarkable, Israel-set short story, “Beautiful Souls,” was chosen by Ron Carlson as winner of the 2011 Colorado Review Nelligan Prize. It is extraordinary, as is Leegant’s novel, Wherever You Go, which I finished reading on New Year’s Day. Hope to write more about Leegant’s work soon.
  • The New York Times reviews the Museum of Jewish Heritage’s Emma Lazarus exhibit.
  • More cultural news from NYC: Next week marks the start of the 21st annual New York Jewish Film Festival.
  • Looking for some book-club possibilities? Check out the Jewish Book Council’s themed reading lists.
  • Can you believe that it’s been almost one whole year since my short-story collection, Quiet Americans, was published? To celebrate this anniversary, I’m offering three free copies of my book. There’s no cost to enter this giveaway and the guidelines couldn’t be simpler. Read more here.
  • Shabbat shalom!

    The Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats

    If you’ll be in New York before January 29, you must stop by the Jewish Museum and take a walk through a wonderful exhibition, “The Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats.”

    When I first heard about this exhibition a few months ago, the very title evoked a pleasing memory. I visualized Peter, the child protagonist of The Snowy Day, as he appeared on the pages of the book before me in my kindergarten classroom in Brooklyn oh-so-many years ago. I remembered the book’s sheer beauty, its vivid colors and the magical way—still astonishing to me as a young reader, still astonishing now—that it captured the very same sense of wonder that I, too, experienced on snowy days.

    Visiting the exhibition this past weekend, I recaptured some of that wonder.

    But I have learned so much more about Keats’s life and work. For starters, the exhibition reveals that Keats was the son of impoverished Eastern European Jewish immigrants. He was born in Brooklyn—as Jacob Ezra Katz.

    This weekend, I was awed anew by his (largely self-cultivated) artistic talent. Moreover, thanks to an exhibit-within-the-exhibit (“From Sambo to Stevie: African-Americans in Picture Books”), I learned a lot that I hadn’t fully appreciated about Keats’s contribution to the history of multicultural children’s literature (and about that subject more broadly).

    Again, I urge you to spend some time at the Jewish Museum exploring the exhibition for yourself. But if that isn’t possible, you can get a substantial glimpse into this remarkable cultural offering online. However, here’s one item that I don’t believe you’ll find online: this sweet and friendly letter from Isaac Bashevis Singer to Ezra Jack Keats. (Please accept my apologies for the quality of my iPhone photo. I’ll confess that I was a bit verklempt in the moment, too!)

    P.S. If I haven’t sufficiently swayed you, please read this take on the exhibition from The New York Times. That should do it!

    USHMM Seeks Contract Researcher/Writer in D.C.

    Received this job announcement via email from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington:

    CONTRACT RESEARCHER
    Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

    The Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is creating a multi-volume Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, 1933-1945.

    In support of this effort, the Center is seeking a contract researcher to gather information and write entries on particular sites (specifically, non-SS forced labor camps under governmental agencies and/or private industrial firms), using the Museum’s library and archival holdings as well as other resources in the Washington, DC area. The researcher may have the opportunity to publish his or her work in the encyclopedia. Some translation and editing duties may also be required. Work is to begin as soon as possible.

    Applicants must possess some education beyond the first degree and have experience in historical research and writing. Knowledge of the Holocaust is highly desirable. Applicants must have excellent writing skills in English and a thorough reading knowledge of German; other central- or eastern-European languages are desirable.

    The researcher will not be an employee of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, but will perform the work on a contract basis. The initial contract will require delivery of entires and other related products in accordance with a six-month schedule, with extensions to the contract possible after that. Payment will be commensurate with the researcher’s education and experience, ranging between $1,500 and $3,000 per month.

    The researcher will also have the opportunity to participate in Center and Museum events such as colloquia, seminars, workshops, fellows’ discussions and lectures.

    Please send a cover letter indicating dates of availability along with a curriculum vitae and a short writing sample (no more than 1,200 words) by 1 November to:

    Geoffrey P. Megargee, Ph.D.
    Applied Research Scholar
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies
    100 Raoul Wallenberg Place SW
    Washington, DC 20024-2126

    Email submissions are acceptable and may be sent to gmegargee(at)ushmm(dot)org

    Jewish Literary Links for Shabbat

  • As I’ve already mentioned on my other blog, I hope that by the time The New York Review of Books publishes the second part of “A Jewish Writer in America,” which reflects a talk originally given by Saul Bellow in 1988, I’ll have been able to digest fully part one.
  • On the occasion of the release of MetaMaus, Art Spiegelman’s combination book/DVD about the creation of his famous Maus, Ruth Franklin writes: “What MetaMaus makes clear is that Maus, like the works of W.G. Sebald, exists somewhere outside of the genres as they are normally defined: We might call it ‘testimonially based Holocaust representation.’ But no matter what it is called, it gives the lie to the critics of Holocaust literature (as well as certain writers of it) who have insisted that either everything must be true or nothing is true.”
  • From The Literary Saloon’s M.A. Orthofer: “It’s always fun when literature and politics get mixed up, and Giulio Meotti’s wacky op-ed at Ynet, wondering: ‘Why do most of Israel’s prominent writers go easy on Jewish State’s enemies ?’ — which apparently amounts to Israel’s literary tragedy — is a fine example.” I agree with Orthofer that the argument isn’t handled well. But I’m less “indifferent” to that argument than he is.
  • New exhibit at the Yiddish Book Center in western Massachusetts: Isaac Bashevis Singer and his Artists. Runs October 16, 2011-February 15, 2012.
  • Andrew Silow-Carroll highlights an amusing anecdote related in Dwight Garner’s review of the new memoir by author Bruce Jay Friedman.
  • Shabbat shalom!

    Jewish Literary Links for Shabbat

  • This week, Josh Lambert’s new books column looks at an array of “post-Holocaust” titles.
  • Judy Bolton-Fasman reviews Avi Steinberg’s Running the Books for The Jerusalem Report.
  • Interesting item on “Creativity and Cultural Arts in Today’s Jewish Europe.”
  • I am going to have to go see this exhibit at The Jewish Museum.
  • A new podcast from The Book of Life reminds me that Joan Leegant’s novel, Wherever You Go, remains on my tbr list.
  • In the July-August Moment magazine: Katharine Weber’s review of the new Wendy Wasserstein biography by Julie Salamon. And much more.
  • Shabbat shalom!

    Jewish Literary Links for Shabbat

  • Another superb glimpse into French-Jewish literature, courtesy of Benjamin Ivry/The Forward.
  • Received an alert this week from the Museum of Jewish Heritage about what looks to be an excellent fall exhibition: “Emma Lazarus: Poet of Exiles.” Opens October 26.
  • Papers sought for a panel on “Translating the Holocaust” (event: Northeast Modern Language Association Conference, Rochester, N.Y., March 2012).
  • The PJ Library seeks a “PJ Goes to School Educator.” Job is based in West Springfield, Mass.
  • Jonathan Kirsch, on Jews and Baseball.
  • Shabbat shalom!