Jewish Literary Links for Shabbat

Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen
Every Friday morning My Machberet presents an assortment of Jewish literary news from around the Web.

  • First: This week brought the release of an English translation of a newly discovered poem, “Hora to an Exiled Girl,” by Hannah Senesh.
  • Next up: Michael Chabon’s latest novel, Telegraph Avenue, will be released next week. Reviewer Diane Cole describes it as a “lively portrait of a community where blacks and whites, Jews and Christians, politicians of every party, all manage to overcome their own latent (and sometimes blatant) prejudices to settle conflicts, both personal and public, and live peacefully together.”
  • And if you’re looking for some more fall books on Jewish themes, this preview should help you find a few.
  • As The New York Times notes, Philip Roth has a new biographer.
  • A college student whose grandmother survived the Nazi occupation of Budapest reflects on “generational memory” of the Holocaust and her writing. (I can’t help thinking that, as is being reported, not everyone in the third generation may be “traumatized” by their grandparents’ histories. But there sure are increasing numbers of us writing about it these days.)
  • And if you missed it on my other blog, a couple of days ago I shared some thoughts about (and examples of) “Bat Mitzvah poetry”–plus a family photo.
  • Shabbat shalom.

    Friday Finds for Writers

    For the weekend: some writing-related reflections, news, and resources to enjoy.

  • One of the highlights of my college education was a creative nonfiction workshop taught by Verlyn Klinkenborg. You can get a sense of Verlyn-as-teacher in this lovely new essay, ““Where Do Sentences Come From?”.
  • Next: Are you ever discouraged by conference/fellowship/residency applications that require letters of recommendation? Cathy Day shares some solid advice.
  • This week brought my latest “First Looks” column for Fiction Writers Review. Go take a peek at the two forthcoming debut novels I’ve spotlighted this month.
  • John Warner reflects on his new “visiting instructor” title (complete with full-time status, benefits, and other pleasures).
  • Those of us interested in freelancing have likely heard about the service known as HARO (Help a Reporter Out). But do we understand how it works?
  • Have a great weekend. See you back here on Monday.

    From My Bookshelf: Fiction by Etgar Keret

    Confession: I frequently read, admire, and link to Israeli author Etgar Keret’s nonfiction/essays (particularly his columns for Tablet), but I haven’t always been as comfortable with Keret’s fiction. I read The Nimrod Flipout when its U.S. publisher sent me a review copy of the English translation several years back (2006), and although I understood what the fuss was about–Keret is one prodigiously talented, not to mention prolific writer–my own reading tastes just don’t hunger for the sheer strangeness–call it experimentalism, fabulism, magical realism, whatever–that seemed to characterize the collection.

    Moreover, back then–around the time of the Second Lebanon War–my nascent interest in attempting to understand contemporary Israel through its literature was intensifying. There was so much about Israel that I, a Diaspora Jew, needed to learn (this remains all too true six years later). Keret’s fables and flash fictions didn’t seem to engage with the seriousness of what the Israelis call hamatzav— “the situation,” namely, the pervasive conflict that suffuses life in their country. It occurred to me only hazily (if at all) that this was a selfish indulgence of my Diaspora self; living within “the situation,” Keret could certainly be excused from spending still more time with it in his fiction.

    But last week, a review-essay on The Millions caught my eye. Titled “The Maturation of Etgar Keret” and written by Bezalel Stern, it captivated me. And it sent me hurrying to add two new volumes to my bookshelf: Suddenly, A Knock on the Door (Keret’s latest book to be released in English, with translations by Nathan Englander, Miriam Shlesinger, and Sondra Silverston) and Four Stories, a slim collection I’ll address in greater detail shortly. (more…)

    Jewish Literary Links for Shabbat

    Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen
  • Among the books on my tbr list is a review copy of the New American Haggadah, whose novelist creators attracted the attention of The New York Times last weekend. (For more about the new Haggadah, see Jeffrey Goldberg, who makes an important guest appearance in the NYT article. Or check out Amy Meltzer’s Homeshuling post, where you can also enter a giveaway and perhaps win a copy of the New American Haggadah for yourself.)
  • The Patagonian Hare, an English version of Claude Lanzmann’s memoir, translated by Frank Wynne, is out this week. Carlin Romano writes about it.
  • In the new Atlantic, Joseph O’Neill writes about Philip Roth and “The American Trilogy.”
  • From Israel, Judy Labensohn shares “The Writing Workshopper’s Prayer.”
  • There’s a new book club in town.
  • Shabbat shalom!

    Jewish Literary Links for Shabbat

    Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen
  • This week, one of the little ones in Auntie Erika’s life turned 8, and as per usual, he received a birthday gift of a book. I sent him Richard Michelson’s Lipman Pike: America’s First Home Run King, which was recently named a Sydney Taylor Notable Book for Young Readers. Check out this interview with Mr. Michaelson (part of the latest blog tour featuring Sydney Taylor Award titles).
  • The above-mentioned interview pointed me to Richard Michaelson’s website, where I discovered this essay Michaelson published some years back, on writing outside one’s own racial/cultural experience.
  • Win a copy of Joan Leegant’s wonderful novel, Wherever You Go.
  • Chas Newkey-Burden (“OyVaGoy”), presents a list of recommended books about Israel.
  • Terrific essay by Sara Ivry for Tablet on a Judy Blume classic, Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself.
  • The Jewish Book Council has announced the winner and runner-up for this year’s Sami Rohr Prize: “This year’s prize is for non-fiction and is awarded to journalist Gal Beckerman. His book, When They Come for Us We’ll Be Gone: The Epic Struggle to Save Soviet Jewry (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), is a comprehensive and enthralling chronicle of the history of the Soviet Jewry movement. The judges believe Beckerman’s work shows ‘his clear commitment to becoming a storyteller for the Jewish people.’ This is Beckerman’s first book. The runner-up is Oxford lecturer Abigail Green, for her biography, Moses Montefiore: Jewish Liberator, Imperial Hero (Belknap Press of Harvard University). She receives a $25,000 prize.”
  • Sample excerpts (translated by Jessica Cohen) from Israeli author Alex Epstein’s forthcoming collection, For My Next Illusion I Will Use Wings.
  • You’ll find a (somewhat overwhelming) list of intriguing new titles in Jewish fiction, poetry, and nonfiction in The Jewish Week‘s spring arts preview.
  • And as London’s Jewish Book Week celebrates its 60th anniversary, it attempts to list 60 great Jewish books of the past six decades.
  • Shabbat shalom!

    Thursday’s Work-in-Progress: Introducing My New Column

    Last week’s posts–about my day job and about how and where to locate forthcoming books for review–proved very popular. Thank you all for the comments, shares, RTs, and other indications of your interest! I hope that you’ll be pleased to know that today’s “work-in-progress” post takes up some of the threads from last week’s items. And that’s because I’m about to introduce a new “extra-curricular” writing activity grounded in my reviewing practice: a “First Looks” blog series/column for Fiction Writers Review, where I’m honored to be a contributing editor.

    As the first post–which went live yesterday–explains: “This series, which I’ll be writing each month, will introduce you to soon-to-be released novels and short-story collections that have piqued my interest as a reader-who-writes. Consider it a public “to be read” announcement of sorts, a way for me to point out a new title (or two) every month and explain what about it has caught my eye. For the most part, we’ll be concentrating on books that fall within FWR’s chief interest: fiction by emerging authors.”

    So go ahead. Take a peek and see which soon-to-released titles made it into the inaugural post (and why). Hope you enjoy!