The 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.
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.
Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen
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!
Published by Holland Park Press, To Sing Away the Darkest Days: Poems Re-imagined from Yiddish Folksongs “is the culmination of a five-year project which saw Norbert Hirschhorn source more than one thousand Yiddish songs from several archives and from collections on the Internet, as well as from CDs.” I learned about this book through a post that the publisher contributed to the Jewish Book Carnival Goodreads group, and when I received an offer of a review copy, I accepted.
The book’s first half is devoted to Hirschhorn’s “re-imaginings” (his term) of the old Yiddish songs. Some source material is likely to be familiar to many readers: “Mayn Yidishe Mame” and “Rozhinkes Mit Mandlen,” for instance. But plenty of Hirschhorn’s inspiration comes from material that I hadn’t encountered before.
Beginning on page 57, the book’s focus turns to “Sources, transliterations, literal translations, [and] links to music.” Starting with the book’s first poem and proceeding anew to the last, the reader finds a transliteration of each song’s original Yiddish text, a literal translation into English, historical background and notes, and, where possible, links to audio or video. I’m still trying to decide if I might have preferred having all of this information directly follow each of the poems instead; the format selected requires a lot of flipping back and forth for the reader who wants edification as she goes along, poem by poem.
In any case, Hirschhorn has done something wonderful here, and I encourage readers interested in Yiddish language and literature (as well as in poetry itself) to investigate. I’ll even recommend a place to start: Hirschhorn’s publisher has created a page with links to some of the songs behind the poems. Go over there, and enjoy.