By Allan Nadler
Natan Meir’s meticulous new history of Kiev Jewry in the modern period, is an assiduous work of conventional scholarship. Meir provides a thorough, lucid and ultimately heartrending account of the noble successes of Kiev’s Jews in building a solid Jewish community, with exemplary religious and charitable institutions, that included one of Europe’s most majestic synagogues and, as in Bialystok, a host of medical centers that rivaled the finest in Moscow and St. Petersburg. At the same time Meir documents with great insight and empathy the relentless obstacles, frustrations and ultimately violent rejection by the Russian majority in the city, which “greeted” the Jews’ noblest efforts to integrate into the city’s larger civic society.Read More
By Igor Webb
I’ve organized my talk around four questions:
1. How does “Nemesis” fit into the body of Philip Roth’s work?
2. How does “Nemesis” reflect the plague narratives?
3. What should Bucky have done?
4. How much does it matter that Arnie Mesnikoff is the story’s narrator?Read More
By Laura Hodes
Joseph Skibell’s third novel, “A Curable Romantic,” evokes the spirit of “Candide” with a Jewish postmodern twist in order to ask the same question as Voltaire: How can we be optimistic in the face of evil?Read More
By Gordon Haber
British journalist Jon Ronson has forged an estimable career out of one fascinating topic: the belief systems of kooks. His 2001 book, “Them: Adventures with Extremists,” looked at conspiracy theorists — jihadists, neo-Nazis and the like — and their paranoid fantasies about shadowy elites and Jews. He also famously profiled David Icke, the Englishman who claims that the elites are 12-foot lizards. (Ronson inconclusively wonders if by “lizards,” Icke actually means “lizards,” and not “Jews.”)Read More
By Glenn Altschuler
Many Christians and Jews believe that the wisdom of King Solomon extended well beyond ordinary human perception. A gift from God, it allowed him to understand the hidden forces of nature, the inner workings of human motivation and the mysteries of the future. Some credit Solomon with an ability to turn lead into gold, conjure demons and become invisible. In Jamaica he is celebrated for discovering marijuana, known there as “the Wisdom Weed.”Read More
By Carmela Ciuraru
In 1956, the artist Jackson Pollock was killed in a car crash in Springs, on the South Fork of Long Island. He was 44 years old and drunk when he drove his Oldsmobile convertible into a tree one fateful August night. He died less than a mile from his home; his mistress, who had been in the car with him, survived the accident.Read More
By Todd Hasak-Lowy
Israeli scholar and poet Zali Gurevitch once asked a room full of kibbutz parents a question he admitted was impossible to answer: If their children were allowed to study only one subject, what would it be? Math? Science? Hebrew? Jewish history? Nope. The kibbutz moms and dads chose the Bible.Read More
By Jacob Silverman
In assessing the work of Serbian-Jewish writer David Albahari, any English-language reader would be working with half a deck. Albahari, who writes in Serbian but has lived in Canada since 1994, has published more than 20 books, including novels, short-story collections, a few books of essays and a children’s book. Only six of these works — a career-spanning short-story collection called “Words Are Something Else” and five novels — have been translated into English.Read More
By Joel Schalit
‘It’s located on Rosa Luxemburg Straße,” she said, “Two blocks from Alexanderplatz. Just take the train, and I’ll meet you there.” Savoring the combination of literary brand names wrapped into that sentence, it all made sense to me. The invitation had been extended by an old friend I’d met through punk circles, in Lon-don, during the 1990s. She’d since moved back to Germany to get better social services for her children, both of whom are disabled. “You’ll love the burritos,” she said before hanging up the phone.Read More
By Irina Reyn
In his appreciation of the film “The Wizard of Oz,” Salman Rushdie wrote, “The real secret of the ruby slippers is not that ‘there’s no place like home,’ but rather that there is no longer such a place as home: except, of course, for the home we make, or the homes that are made for us, in Oz: which is anywhere, and everywhere, except the place from which we began.”Read More