The ProsenPeople

Revisiting Early July

Wednesday, July 28, 2010 | Permalink

Posted by Naomi Firestone-Teeter

Oops! Missed two great posts on Jewcy and Tablet from earlier in July…better late than never:

The New Era of Israeli Literature

The case for more literature translated into English ought to be a no-brainer, but as it stands, only a little over 3% of all books published in the United States are works in translation. That’s a fact that constantly astonishes, and I’ve never been able to come up with a solid reason as to why that stays true…

Your Jewish Fall Fiction Preview

Drawing on the categories Most Anticipated, The One You’re Most Likely To Read, Most Charming, Longest, Most Tablet Magazine-y, Most Israeli, Most Park Slope, etc., Tablet offers ten new novels you should know about.

The Other Other Singer

Wednesday, July 28, 2010 | Permalink

Posted by Naomi Firestone-Teeter

After spending the last few days up at the National Yiddish Book Center, it’s only fitting that we would be drawn to an article on one of the Singer siblings, published yesterday in The New Republic‘s online review.

Some of you may remember our post last year on the reissue of Esther Singer Kreitman’s The Dance of the Demons: A Novel , “The Other Singer”, which you can find here.

Now, as the reissue of The Brothers Ashkenazi draws near (fall, Other Press), Rebecca Newberger Goldstein sheds light on the older brother of Isaac Bashevis Singer (I.B. Singer), Israel Joshua Singer (I.J. Singer). As Goldstein points out, ironically, while the two brothers lived, it was I.J. who was famous, while Isaac “languished darkly in his internal contradictions and his older brother’s shadow.” She goes on to examine I.J.’s political engagement and interest in Western civilization (rather than the era of the Talmud), as well as his stories and his role in his brother’s path to publication.

Read the full article in The Book: The Online Review of The New Republic here

Ah, another troll-fighting 11-year-old Orthodox Jewish girl

Wednesday, July 28, 2010 | Permalink

Posted by Naomi Firestone-Teeter

Just got wind (thanks Lisa Silverman!) of this new book, due out in November from Amulet Books: Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword (Barry Deutsch).

Hereville started as a web comic and is about an eleven-year-old girl in an Orthodox Jewish community, and she imagines fighting dragons and she wants to train to do this. She ends up meeting a witch and troll and finally getting a sword that she can use to fight dragons. Yes, we agree, it sounds awesome.

Read more about the book on the author’s website:

Book Trailer for The Thieves of Manhattan

Wednesday, July 28, 2010 | Permalink

Posted by Naomi Firestone-Teeter

Adam Langer’s book trailer for his newest novel, The Thieves of Manhattan:

Shteyngart and J. Cohen Imagine the Future

Wednesday, July 28, 2010 | Permalink

Posted by Naomi Firestone-Teeter

This week, Vox Tablet invites listeners to consider some unconventional summer reading. Gary Shteyngart and Joshua Cohen have both come out with new novels that paint a very dark picture of the future… Read On

Adam Langer Writes a Book in Two Months

Wednesday, July 28, 2010 | Permalink

In his last post, Adam Langer set out to write a screenplay. His newest novel, The Thieves of Manhattan, is now available. He will be blogging all week for the Jewish Book Council and MyJewishLearning.

So, after a few revisions, I had a screenplay that I thought was decent. If nothing else, I thought it could serve as a calling card if I ever wanted to pitch Hollywood with a great literary adaptation idea. I sent it to my LA agent who said he wanted to show it to a fairly well-known director who would be coming by his office later in the week. I never heard a complete report on that meeting, but I figured that no news meant bad news. I started in on another revision, but kept getting hung up on details. I discussed my difficulties with my pal Jerome, who told me that I should rewrite the story as a novel. “That would take a while,” I said. “Nah,” he said. “I bet it would take a month.” I took that as a challenge and started work on the novel. I retained about 30% of the ideas from the screenplay, and wrote the rest from scratch, adding details inspired by some of my favorite literary hoaxes.

I began with a chapter about a character I called “The Suave Man.” I worked as fast as I could, as intensely as I knew how, aiming for 2,000 words per day. I typed to the beat of some aggressive music that I found inspiring and some even-more-aggressive music that I found even more inspiring. I rented a dreadful apartment during an even-more-dreadful winter in a somewhat hip Chicago neighborhood, not far from the home of a Jewish writer friend of mine. But at least the apartment did inspire me to write, and though I didn’t finish the first draft in one month as Jerome said I would, I did finish it in two. When I was done revising, I sent it to my agent, who sent it to my publisher, who said she wanted to publish it in July, 2010.

I completed revisions on September 10, 2009 at about 6 PM, just a few hours after writing a blurb for a book by a funny and talented college pal of mine and just a couple of hours before the birth of my second daughter, Solveig (insert purportedly pithy but actually presumptuous statement likening artistic production to childbirth here). That could have been the end of the story, but…

Adam Langer’s most recent novel, The Thieves of Manhattan, is now available. Visit his official website here and check back all week for his posts for the Visiting Scribe.

Adam Langer Writes a Screenplay

Monday, July 26, 2010 | Permalink

Adam Langer’s fourth novel, The Thieves of Manhattan, is now available. He will be blogging for the Jewish Book Council and MyJewishLearning.

I had been on the West Coast, staying in a hovel just a few blocks away from one of my favorite places and finishing up research on a memoir about my father and speaking to a very prominent Jewish organization. The memoir was emotionally difficult work, and I knew that for my next project, I would want to do something fun. A screenplay sounded like a good change of pace, so I met with my agent in his plush office just for a few moments before he had to meet with a far more celebrated client. He told me briefly about screenplay structure—how a script needs to have three acts, last about 120 pages, and have an “eleven o’clock” moment on page 90. Before he left, he gave me a stack of screenplays, which I read on the plane ride home; one of the scripts was rumored to be a Tom Cruise vehicle.

My initial idea was to see if I could adapt one of my novels into a script, but I had trouble motivating myself to revisit an old work and, instead, turned my attention to a novel idea I had abandoned—a comic thriller set in my neighborhood on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and told in a hyper-literary patois. I enjoyed the pace of the writing and the made-up language I was using (I had spent more than enough time reading hard-boiled thrillers that used their own hard-to-decipher lingo and wanted to pay those writers back). But the story, which had something to do with manuscript authentication, never coalesced in my mind, and I didn’t get much further than the first scene, set in a fictionalized version of a coffee shop where I like to write. Other writers, Jewish and otherwise, seem to enjoy the atmosphere at this coffee shop as well.

I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to write in my screenplay. I talked about collaborating with a writer friend of mineon an update of a Henry James novel, but we never made it past a quick conversation about it while walking around a fairly grotesque Chicago food festival. Without necessarily knowing where I was going, I began work on a script about a frustrated young barista named Ian, who finds himself embroiled in a confidence game when he considers putting his name to a fake memoir. I love films about con games and thought that the literary world would be a great place to set one. I found myself inspired by a great Scandinavian film about the writing life, which I saw with a fellow Jewish writer, and a classic Hollywood satire, which I saw with a fellow not-so-Jewish editor. After a few months of work, I wasn’t sure whether I had a great script or not, but I did have one with three acts and 120 pages and an “eleven o’clock moment” round about page 90.

View Adam’s first dabblings in screenplay writing:

All The Daisies

Thieves of Manhattan

His most recent novel, The Thieves of Manhattan, is now available. Visit his official website here and check back all week for his posts on the Jewish Book Council and MyJewishLearning's author blogging series.

Allegra Goodman’s latest novel reviewed on NPR

Wednesday, July 21, 2010 | Permalink

Posted by Naomi Firestone-Teeter

Allegra Goodman’s latest novel, The Cookbook Collector, is reviewed on NPR’s “Fresh Air”, along with an excerpt, here.

Rabbi Harvey Interviews Gary Shteyngart

Tuesday, July 20, 2010 | Permalink

Posted by Naomi Firestone-Teeter

Rabbi Harvey interviews Gary Shteyngart (Super Sad True Love Story) for here.

And, check out the trailer for Super Sad True Love Story below…we heart you Gary S.

A History of Jewish Children’s Books

Monday, July 19, 2010 | Permalink

Posted by Naomi Firestone-Teeter

The Whole Megillah blog adapts a talk given by Lisa Silverman, children’s editor of Jewish Book World, in Los Angeles on May 23, 2010 at the Highlights Foundation Workshop, “Writing Jewish-themed Books for Children”:

The Origins of Jewish Children’s Literature in English

Sydney Taylor and the All-of-a-Kind Family