The ProsenPeople

Book Cover of the Week: Fascinating—The Life of Leonard Nimoy

Thursday, August 25, 2016 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

I always have an eye out for good books for young Jewish readers—stories that break the mold of what we consider "Jewish children's literature" and introduce interesting ideas along with evocative imagery that appeals to the artistic sensibilities of kids and adults alike. Combine those qualities with my love for all things Leonard Nimoy, and you can see why I'm excited for Richard Michelson and Edel Rodriguez's new illustrated biography:

Accessible to readers of all religious or Trekkie affiliations, Fascinating: The Life of Leonard Nimoy delivers strong Jewish content without overpowering the universal story of first-generation achievement in the United States. Exploring Nimoy's childhood in Boston's West End, Fascinating depicts the assiduous actor's decision to take on his iconic half-Vulcan role in light of the alienation his parents experienced as American immigrants from Iziaslav—reflected in the cover illustration of Mr. Spock's profile superimposed with the face of young Leonard.

Intrigued? Richard Michelson will share more about the book as a Visiting Scribe here on The ProsenPeople over the first week of Elul—the week after next!

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Book Cover of the Week: Mamaleh Knows Best

Tuesday, August 16, 2016 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

Only two weeks until Marjorie Ingall's long-awaited guide to Jewish parenting, Mamaleh Knows Best: What Jewish Mothers Do to Raise Successful, Creative, Empathetic, Independent Children, comes out!

Is that a mom blowing two children out of a shofar?

Countering the negative stereotypes of the Jewish mothers, Mamaleh Knows Best is packed with history, statistics, and personal parenting anecdotes from raising two kids in New York's Lower East Side.

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Book Cover of the Week: Where the Jews Aren't

Tuesday, August 09, 2016 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

One of my favorite nonfiction writers has a new book coming out at the end of the month that addresses the bizarre history of Birobidzhan, a Russian region granting autonomy to its Jewish settlers along the border with China:

Envisioned as a stronghold of Jewish culture, Birobidzhan became home to thousands of Jews within a couple years of its establishment in 1929 before it was plundered for intellectuals and elites in a wave of arrests in the late 1930s. Following World War II, refugees from the Jewish Pale of Settlement reinforced the remote region's population, only to succumb once more to the Soviet purges which effectively silenced Birobidzhan's inhabitants and their story—until now.

Those stories forming Where the Jews Aren't: The Sad and Absurd Story of Birobidzhan, Russia's Jewish Autonomous Region could not be left to a more capable custodian than Masha Gessen, whose previous books on Russian history and current events range from biographies of mathematicians to the love stories of LGBT Russians to the fate of the Soviet intelligentsia under Communism to the Pussy Riot revolution.

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Book Cover of the Week: Moonglow by Michael Chabon

Tuesday, August 02, 2016 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

Yes, there's a new Michael Chabon novel coming out November 2016. And yes, it's good.

You'd better be prepared to pry this one out of your loved ones' grasp and gaze to get them to the table this Thanksgiving: Moonglow is an utterly absorbing "tale of madness and model rocketry, of war and adventure, of love and desire, of the shining aspirations and demonic underpinnings of American technological accomplishments at mid-century and, above all, of the destructive impact—and the creative power—of the keeping of secrets and the telling of lies." From the Jewish neighborhoods of Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Floridian retirement communities to penal colonies at home and war camps abroad, Chabon's newest journey proves well worth the wait.

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Book Cover of the Week: Leaving Lucy Pear

Tuesday, July 26, 2016 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

Happy pub day to Anna Solomon on the release of Leaving Lucy Pear! I love the book cover (and the story behind it, which you will be able to read in Jewish Book Council's interview with the author later this summer) on the American edition, but the edition for English readers abroad is also worth a gander:

If either book cover isn't enough to whet your literary appetite, read the novel's opening scene!

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Book Cover of the Week: New Renderings of the Night Trilogy

Wednesday, July 20, 2016 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

While Sophie Segal, one of Jewish Book Council’s interns this summer, was researching her essay on the legacies of the late Novel laureates Imre Kertész and Elie Wiesel, I came across some striking representations of Wiesel’s Night trilogy, dreamed up by independent graphic designers:

Definitely a strong departure from the standard paperback edition. What do these aesthetics contribute to the books they cover, or does an artistic element somehow detract from the work as Wiesel intended? I’m curious to hear other readers’ thoughts on this—please chime in using the comments section below!

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Book Cover of the Week: Revolutionary Yiddishland

Tuesday, July 12, 2016 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

Following up on last week's simple artworkon a biography of Karl Marx, let's expand the design and discourse to all of "Yiddishland":

Revolutionary Yiddishland: A History of Jewish Radicalism by Alain Brossat and Sylvia Klingberg is a journey across the Jewish socio-political movements arising out of a population of roughly 11 million in the dense archipelago of communities stretching from the Baltic Sea to Russia's western borders. Tempered by an unusual muted pink, the stylized book cover captures the energy of the history it examines: socialists, Communists, Bundists, Zionists, Trotskyists, proletariats, and intellectuals steeped in the religious traditions of their families and swept up in "the great current of revolutionary utopian thinking" of their time. An attempt to recover the rich radical history of a lost realm and working class, Revolutionary Yiddishland will be on the shelves September 2016 from Verso Books.

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Book Cover of the Week: Karl Marx, Greatness and Illusion

Tuesday, July 05, 2016 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

While the contents of a philosophy-packed biography of Karl Marx is almost certain to send my head spinning, the clean lines of its book cover are enough to set it back on straight:

Karl Marx: Greatness and Illusion comes out this September from Belknap Press, condensing the life and oeuvre of one of the world's most influential intellectuals into 720 pages of history and thought. The simplicity of the book jacket's design is a great pairing for the whirlwind of information within, balanced and bold. Just don't stare at it too long—it'll make you dizzy.

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Book Cover of the Week: They Were Like Family to Me

Tuesday, June 28, 2016 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

If you're surprised to discover that Helen Maryles Shankman already has another title due out this October, look closer:

For reasons the author attributes to "the mysteries of the book business," Scribner has decided to change not only the original artwork for In the Land of Armadillos but the very name of the book itself in a "reprint edition" of Shankman's debut collection of short stories, which came out in February. The announcement of these changes was met with a wide range of responses from readers, writers, and friends of the author last week—as well as here in the office! " I think it's a good sign that they're changing the title and cover," one fellow writer commented on Shankman's post. "It means they are still very invested in the book."

While it sounds like the cover you see above is still far from finalized, it's a great sneak peak. What are your thoughts on the new book cover and title? Weigh in in the comments section below!

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Book Cover of the Week: I'm Supposed to Protect You from All This

Tuesday, June 21, 2016 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

It took opposite journeys for a mother and daughter to each find themselves at the start of their adult lives: one needed to leave France to discover herself; the other needed to return to Paris to discover her family—the side that “didn’t have dealings with the Nazis. They occasionally traded goods with the Nazis,” as her grandmother insists.

The other side, as you may have guessed, is immortalized in the three-volume graphic memoir Maus: A Survivor’s Tale. Lest you think I’m going on a cartoonist craze after last week’s feature, Nadja Spiegelman’s memoir has little to say about her father or his work. Instead, I’m Supposed to Protect from All This is about the relationship between Nadja and her mother, New Yorker art director Françoise Mouly, strained by the echoes of Mouly’s own upbringing between two eccentric parents and the families that raised them, in turn.

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