The best-selling author Jonathan Safran Foer was one of the most popular speakers at the first International Writers’ Festival at Mishkenot Sha’ananim two years ago. Returning this year, he spoke to an overflow audience in conversation with an Israeli novelist who, like him, has written about the Holocaust. But Amir Gutfreund’s playful first questions weren’t about their common subject. He was more interested in the consequences of fame. Foer pointed out, “My environment isn’t literary festivals or an advance for a book.” Describing his daily life in Brooklyn with his wife, his children, and his dog, he observed, “Many things are grounding and humbling: having a children, having a family, living in a community. I feel extremely grateful for any success.”
Moderator Kobi Meidan gave them an opportunity to do just that. When he asked what it’s like to finish a book, Auster reflected, “You’ve been living with the characters, as real and as vital as flesh-and-blood human beings. So there’s a great sadness because you have to say good-bye to them. They’re leaving your life and it takes some time to recover.” Grossman echoed the sentiment. “If a character was a significant, meaningful part of my life for a few years,” he affirmed, “of course I will be with it, and I hope it will be with me for the rest of my life.” David Grossman is more publicly engaged with politics than Paul Auster, but they voiced similar concerns. Auster senses that “people seem tired, worn out by conflict” in Israel. “I can understand why people would become apathetic. It’s almost too much to live this way all the time. But something’s got to give.”
When I graduated college, I moved to San Francisco to get away from Judaism. No, that’s not right: I moved there because I thought I wanted to be a writer, and even though everyone at my synagogue warned me that San Francisco was a Jewish wasteland without Orthodox Jews or kosher restaurants, I knew that I had to put my writing first. Read On.
Join Heeb to celebrate the paperback release of Drawing in the Dust (Simon & Schuster) at Common Ground (206 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009) onTuesday, June 8 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Original Sin is providing complimentary cider. In present-day Israel, Page Brookstone’s incredible discovery shakes the foundations of the world’s religious knowledge, sparking both political consequences for the entire country and very personal consequences for Page. Both a love story and an Archaeological adventure, Rabbi Zoe Klein’s beautiful first novel delves deeply into Jewish history, merging lost relics, biblical tales, a cross-cultural romance and even a lyrical counterpoint to the Book of Jeremiah.