My Year In Jewish Books

StarFor the past two years, I’ve found it useful (and kind of fun) to look back on “my year in Jewish books.” So, borrowing some of the same introductory wording, I’m going to attempt to do something similar for 2013, even if Hanukkah came so early this year that this 2013 iteration lacks the same usefulness a gift-inspiration guide.

Reviewing my reading for 2013 (thank you, Goodreads!), I can see that I do not and would not ever limit my reading to “Jewish books” exclusively. (By the way, in case you haven’t heard me say this before, I define “Jewish books” as books with substantive Jewish content. In my view, non-Jewish authors can write “Jewish books.” And Jewish authors can write books that don’t strike me as particularly Jewish.)

But this year, as usual, I did read quite a few books that fall within the “Jewish book” category. And, as an advocate for Jewish literature, I’m proud of that.

Below, you will find these books presented in the order in which I read them. Please note that, where appropriate, I have included links to reviews, essays, and newsy items I have written; interviews I have conducted; and the odd blog post. I have also disclosed how I obtained each book: P (purchase), R (complimentary review copy/complimentary seminar copy), L (library). (more…)

Jewish Literary Links for Shabbat

Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen

Every Friday morning My Machberet presents an assortment of Jewish-interest links, primarily of the literary variety.

  • The Association for Jewish Studies annual conference begins on Sunday, December 15. I’ll be following along via the Twitter hashtag #AJS13.
  • My thanks to Zackary Sholem Berger for this introduction to the poetry of Yermiyahu Ahron Taub, on The Forward‘s Arty Semite blog.
  • This week I’m reading Jason K. Friedman’s prize-winning short-story collection Fire Year, described by Publishers Weekly as “seven funny, fearless outsiders’ tales set in Savannah and Atlanta—some depicting bygone orthodox Jewish communities, others the rife-with-irony ‘New South’.” The opening story, “Blue,” previously won the Moment-Karma Foundation fiction contest.
  • Must confess that I’m not satisfied with the conclusions drawn in “What is a Jewish Poem?” But the piece did add another essay to my tbr list.
  • “The YIVO Institute and Bard College are pleased to announce the third year of the Winter Program on Ashkenazi Civilization. This program, the first of its kind in the U.S., presents an integrated curriculum in the culture, history, language, and literature of East European Jews.” Courses offerings include “The Other Sholem Aleichem,” with Jonathan Brent; “New York Intellectuals Revisited,” with Adam Kirsch; “Jewish Literary Life in the Soviet Union,” with Gennady Estraikh; and more.
  • Shabbat shalom.

    10 Ways to Celebrate Jewish Book Month

    book.month.poster.2013The Holy Days are barely behind us, and we’re already preparing for Hanukkah (the first day of which, as some have realized, coincides with American Thanksgiving this year). But between these events comes something else that should be on your calendar: Jewish Book Month.

    Running this year from October 26 to November 26, Jewish Book Month is associated most visibly with the New York-based Jewish Book Council. Many of the author visits to North American synagogues and Jewish community centers that are highlights of local Jewish book festivals occur during this time period. Check this list of sites associated with the Jewish Book Council to see what may be planned during Jewish Book Month in your area.

    But whether you’re in New York or New Zealand, you can find ways to appreciate the richness and diversity of Jewish books and writing over the next month. Here are 10 suggestions:

    Read the rest of my article for The Forward‘s Arty Semite blog right here.

    Jewish Literary Links for Shabbat

    Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen
    Every Friday morning My Machberet presents an assortment of Jewish-interest links, primarily of the literary variety.

  • As we marked what would have been Daniel Pearl’s 50th birthday this week, Heidi Kingstone reflected “on being a Jewish journalist in hostile lands.”
  • Yeladim Books is interested in Jewish picture books, chapter books, and YA/Teen novels for a new digital collection to be launched this fall. It is interested in licensing existing titles, whether current or out of print, and also acquiring new books. If interested, please contact Ron Zevy at rz(at)tumblebooks(dot)com.” (via The Whole Megillah)
  • Eva L. Weiss’s post for The Jewish Week’s Well Versed blog makes me hope that an English translation of the first collection of short stories by Ethiopian-Israeli author Dalia Betolin-Sherman will be available soon.
  • Unfortunately, I have other plans already, but my fellow New Yorkers should take note of “The Remarkable Life and Afterlife of Sholem Aleichem,” a free panel discussion at YIVO that will take place next Thursday, October 17, and will feature a powerhouse intellectual trio: Jonathan Brent, Executive Director, YIVO; Jeremy Dauber, Columbia University; and Adam Kirsch, The New Republic (Moderator).
  • And, icymi, over on my other blog I’ve given a detailed account of my attendance last Saturday evening at an event spotlighting Israeli author Etgar Keret.
  • Shabbat shalom.

    Jewish Literary Links for Shabbat

    Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen
    Every Friday morning My Machberet presents an assortment of Jewish-interest links, primarily of the literary variety.

  • Big news: A translation of a new David Grossman novel is coming in March. Check out Library Journal‘s Barbara Hoffert’s “prepub alert” for the details.
  • On Moment‘s blog, Claudia Roth Pierpont answers questions about her forthcoming study of Philip Roth.
  • The 3rd Annual Jewish Playwriting Contest is taking submissions until November 21st.
  • The Yiddish Book Center has an intriguing weekend program coming up in November: “The Family Singer: Three Siblings and Their Stories.”
  • The 2013-2014 track of the Schusterman Visiting Israeli Artists Program has officially kicked off, bringing 10 Israeli artists [including writers] for residencies at top universities across the United States.”
  • Just added to my tbr list: Molly Knight Raskin’s No Better Time: The Brief, Remarkable Life of Danny Lewin, the Genius Who Transformed the Internet. Liel Leibowitz’s Tablet piece is the reason why.
  • I’d already heard about MOST of the books included in Sandee Brawarsky’s big fall preview article for The Jewish Week. But not all of them.
  • Please be sure to come back here to My Machberet on Sunday, when the September Jewish Book Carnival will be posted. In the meantime, Shabbat Shalom. And a good fast!