The ProsenPeople

More on Gail Hareven

Thursday, May 21, 2009 | Permalink

Posted by Naomi Firestone-Teeter

Erika Dreifus of Practicing Writing shares her thoughts on The Confessions of Noa Weber, here.

San Diego Book and Writing Awards

Monday, May 18, 2009 | Permalink

Posted by Naomi Firestone-Teeter

The San Diego Union-Tribune reports:

The 15th annual San Diego Book and Writing Awards were announced Saturday evening, and the prize for the book of the year (the Theodor S. Geisel Award) has gone to Laurel Corona’s “The Four Seasons: A Novel of Vivaldi’s Venice.”

Corona, an English and Humanities professor at San Diego City College, also garnered the Historical Fiction award for her novel and was the co-winner, with Michael Bart, in the Biography category, for “Until Our Last Breath: A Holocaust Story of Love and Resistance,” which conveys the story of Bart’s parents, the destruction of the Jewish ghetto in Vilna during World War II and the wider tale of resistance and survival.

To view the complete list, please visit here.

Sana Krasikov Discusses Her Writing Life in the Forward

Monday, May 18, 2009 | Permalink

Posted by Naomi Firestone-Teeter

A wonderful interview with Sana Krasikov (One More Year) in the Forward on being a writer and winning the Rohr Prize.

Thursday Art Fix

Thursday, May 14, 2009 | Permalink

Posted by Naomi Firestone-Teeter

If you live in Chicago, be sure to check out the exhibit A Force for Change: African American Art and the Julius Rosenwald Fund, on display at The Spertus Museum through August 16th.

The exhibit, and accompanying book (by the same name), explore the role of the Julius Rosenwald Fund in the field of African American art. The exhibit and book examine both the Fund and the funded artists.

In Rhoda Rosen’s Foreword to the book, she explains:

As an exhibition of African American art from the 1920s to ’40s, it may seem, at first glance, an unusual subject for a Jewish museum. Yet, the artists we include were supported at a crucial time in their careers, and when support for African American artists was rare, by the Julius Rosenwald Fund, a foundation established by one of the most important Jewish entrepreneurs and philanthropists in Chicago, indeed in the United States…His commitment to philanthropy is connected to Jewish principles and especially to the teachings of his rabbi, Rabbi Emil G. Hirsch…The exhibition and publication provide a much-needed examination of an under-represented period in American art and an opportunity to examine the initiatives and the legacy of Julius Rosenwald.

The title includes essays, a “Who’s Who of African American artists” of the first half of the 20th century, as well as images of the paintings and photographs produced by these artists. An important addition to the field of art history, African American history, and Jewish American history.

Sneak Peek: Binnie Kirshenbaum Interview

Wednesday, May 13, 2009 | Permalink

Posted by Naomi Firestone-Teeter

The Summer issue of Jewish Book World is coming soon! As usual, we’re posting a sneak peek from the issue: “JBW Talks to Binnie Kirshenbaum” by Phil Sandick:

Binnie Kirshenbaum’s new novel, The Scenic Route, will be published by Harper Perennial in May 2009. Ms. Kirshenbaum is the author of seven acclaimed novels and two short story collections. She lives in New York where she is a professor and the chair of Columbia University’s Graduate Writing Program in the School of the Arts.

Jewish Book World: I particularly love your writing about New York. Can you talk a little about the joys and challenges of writing about a place that holds such a mythical space in people’s imagination?

Binnie Kirshenbaum: Thank you; sometimes I worry that New York is a literary cliché. I imagine readers rolling their eyes and thinking, “Oh, there again.” There’s a challenge: to make fresh a place that everyone knows whether through books, movies, television, hearsay. And yet, it’s not a challenge because one of the many remarkable things about New York is how it is always reinventing itself. I can walk the same streets day after day and always see something that wasn’t there yesterday. It’s an ever-changing, shapeshifting cacophony and the joy is in the never-ending discovery. It’s my home. The place I know best is also a place unknowable. Thomas Wolfe’s story “Only the Dead Know Brooklyn,” comes to mind, how true that is and how that inability to ever know all its secrets is what renders it a romantic and mythical place.

JBW: Many of your books convey a strong sense of the past. Do Jewish themes influence your sensibilities for writing about history?

BK: How can we understand who we are without understanding whence we came? All that happened before us, all history—cultural, national, personal—has shaped every facet of our lives. History is like psychoanalysis writ large. Everything that came before us affects us in the here and now, the same way we are shaped by our childhoods. In that way, the history of the Jews has of course influenced who I am; I don’t know that it’s possible to separate who I am from any of my sensibilities. It could be that some of my attachment to history comes from a Jewish sense of the importance of history, of being an “old” people, but also I like a good story, and history is that too.

JBW: Have you been to all of the places you’ve written about in The Scenic Route? Were you writing partly from imagination/research?

BK: I haven’t been to all the places I wrote about in The Scenic Route; I’ve been to a lot of them, although none recently and not all in one clip. Because my travels spanned the course of many years and memory fades, I had to do research on some of the places where I’d been to make the images vivid in my mind. And of course many details I’d forgotten, and surely I didn’t always stay in the swanky places where Sylvia and Henry stayed. I needed to research the five-star hotels too. And there were other cities and villages I hadn’t been to, places I saw on a map only. I researched those to form an idea of them. So there was definitely a lot of research involved. What I imagined was what the characters might’ve done while there, and what about a place would strike their fancy. And I imagined their meals. For me, fiction starts with observation, taking notice of something or somewhere or someone I know, and running with it, imagining the rest. So it’s based in reality for about a sentence or two.

To read the complete interview, be sure to check out the Summer issue of Jewish Book World. To subscribe, please click here.

We’re Twittering (or tweeting…or twitting…errr…blerg)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009 | Permalink
Posted by Naomi Firestone-Teeter

We’ve taken the plunge! We’re now officially on Twitter and twittering away (is that the right term? we’re slowly getting a hold of the lingo…). Come follow us here
 to stay up-to-date hourly on the latest Jewish literary news…

Oh Summer...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009 | Permalink

Posted by Naomi Firestone-Teeter

Summer is…almost here.

Keep your eyes open for these upcoming titles as you browse the shelves this Summer:


The Hebrew Tutor of Bel Air (Allan Appel)
Israel Is Real (Rich Cohen)
Drawing in the Dust(Zoe Klein)


Jewish Cooking Boot Camp: The Modern Girl’s Guide to Cooking Like a Jewish Grandmother (Andrea Marks Carneiro and Roz Marks)
Rashi’s Daughters, Book III: Rachel: A Novel of Love and the Talmud in Medieval France (Maggie Anton)
Rage Against the Meshugenah: Why it Takes Balls to Go Nuts (Danny Evans)

September (Ok, not quite Summer still, but close enough)

The Jewish Princess: Feasts and Festivals: With Family and Friends (Georgie Tarn and Tracey Fine)
Day After Night (Anita Diamant)
The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment (A.J. Jacobs)

And on the Fall horizon (don’t worry, we’ll remind you…):

Save the Deli: Search of Perfect Pastrami, Crusty Rye, and the Heart of Jewish Delicatessen (David Sax)
Sex, Drugs & Gefilte Fish: The Heeb Storytelling Collection (Shana Liebman)
Everything Is God: The Radical Path of Nondual Judaism (Jay Michaelson)
America’s Prophet: Moses and the American Story (Bruce Feiler)

Michael Chabon in White House Poetry Jam

Wednesday, May 13, 2009 | Permalink

Posted by Naomi Firestone-Teeter

Michael Chabon is one lucky guy. Last night he was invited to participate in the White House’s first Poetry Jam, along with Joshua Bennett, James Earl Jones, Eric Lewis, Jamaica Heolimeleikalani Osorio, Mayda Del Valle, and Esperanza Spalding, among others. The evening’s goal was to celebrate poetry, music, and spoken word around the theme of dialogue, “showing how dialogue is important in every aspect of who we are as Americans and as human beings, and demonstrating how communication is a constant throughout the ages."

Ayelet Waldman, Michael Chabon’s wife and author of the recently published Bad Mother, shares more about their White House evening here.

To view a video of part of the evening, click here.

And more from The New York Times “Art Beat” Blog here.

And their Politics and Government Blog, here.

If you search “michael chabon+ayelet waldman+white house poetry,” you’ll find many more posts on this historical evening. Search away!


Monday, May 11, 2009 | Permalink

Posted by Naomi Firestone-Teeter

Two new titles explore Operation Valkyrie–the plot to assassinate Hitler:

Valkyrie: The Story of the Plot to Kill Hitler, By It’s Last Member (Philipp Freiherr von Boeselager)

When the Second World War broke out, Philipp Freiherr von Boeselager, age twenty-five, fought for his country enthusiastically as a cavalry officer. His rearing on the family estate in the Rhineland had instilled in him a strong Catholic faith, a reverence for the fatherland, and a love of horsemanship and the hunt. And so, like his brother Georg, he accepted a commission when the call came to restore the pride Germany had lost in the humiliating peace of Versailles…Read More

Countdown to Valkyrie: The July Plot to Assassinate Hitler (Nigel Jones)

Although there were more than 40 plots to assassinate Adolf Hitler, none came closer to success than the July Plot of 1944. The attempt was masterminded by Count von Stauffenberg, a member of the German General Staff, who had been rushed back from Africa after losing his left eye and right hand. For his injuries, he had been decorated as a war hero. Never a supporter of Nazi ideology, he was increasingly attracted by the approaches of the German resistance movement. After a attempt to assassinate Hitler in November 1943 failed, Stauffenberg developed a new plot to kill him at the Wolf’s Lair Headquarters on 20th July 1944…Read More

Nextbook published a review of Valkyrie (von Boeselager) by Adam Kirsch today, here.

To view the trailer of the 2008 film “Valkyrie” starring Tom Cruise and Kenneth Branagh, click here.

Videos on the Nextbook/Schocken Jewish Encounters Series

Monday, May 11, 2009 | Permalink

Posted by Naomi Firestone-Teeter

Watch Nextbook/Schocken’s Jewish Encounters authors speak on the following titles:

Benjamin Disraeli (Adam Kirsch)

Resurrecting Hebrew (Ilan Stavans)

The Jewish Body (Melvin Konner)