The ProsenPeople

Book Cover of the Week: Madonna in a Fur Coat

Friday, September 22, 2017 | Permalink
Posted by Natalie Aflalo

It's officially fall. Season of crisp apples, good sweaters, and warm outerwear, like the plush (hopefully faux) fur the mysterious woman below is wearing. While I do take issue with the cover photo's inconsistency — the model is wearing what looks like a capelet or wrap, rather than the titular coat — I am a fan of the broad's style, and wish I could get a better look at that smoky eye. 

I was really excited to learn about this book, a Turkish classic first published in 1943 and available in English for the first time this November from Other Press. The story takes place in vibrant, interwar Berlin, where a young Turkish man meets a half-Jewish artist who "transforms him forever." (Do we have a magical Jewess on our hands?) The synopsis says the book is about new beginnings, which helpfully ties into the autumnal theme of this post, and the start of the Jewish New Year — Shana Tova to all! 

Book Cover of the Week: The Female Persuasion

Friday, September 15, 2017 | Permalink

Posted by Natalie Aflalo

While Meg Wolitzer's newest novel won't be out until next spring, the cover of Female Persuasion has already sucked me in like some sort of psychedelic vortex. The book has been described as "electric" and "multilayered," just like its jacket's seventies-inspired graphic. According to early write-ups, the concept of desire is central to the story. I think the cover really captures the obsessive, addictive quality of desire in its repetition and dizzying brightness.

Also: Is it just me or do the triangles remind anyone else of the Illuminati symbol? The book is supposed to be about power, ambition, and influence. Hmm...

Book Cover of the Week: Petty Business

Wednesday, July 26, 2017 | Permalink

Posted by Gabby Teaman

After a hot week like this one, you'll wanna dive right into the pool on the cover of this week's pick, Petty Business.

Petty Business, by Yirmi Pinkus and translated by Evan Fallenberg and Yardenne Greenspan, is a tragic-comic novel about a large, dysfunctional, well-to-do family in early nineties Tel Aviv. While the cover is enticing us to dive in right away, you'll have to wait to November to dig in further (November 15th to be exact). We'll be ready for another dose of summer-themed covers by then, surely. 

Book Cover of the Week: Poetry Will Save Your Life

Tuesday, May 23, 2017 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

Yes it will.

Poetry Will Save Your Life is New York Times bestselling author and poet Jill Bialosky's memoir of her upbringing and career, organizing her experiences around 43 life-changing poems from Robert Frost, Sylvia Plath, Emily Dickinson, Wallace Stevens, and others. Really looking forward to hearing Jill talk about her book live today at the 2017 JBC Network Conference!

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Book Cover of the Week: The Story of Hebrew

Thursday, February 02, 2017 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

If I had to sum up this book cover in one word, it would be “AMEN”:

Lewis Glinert’s linguistic history The Story of Hebrew boasts one of the loveliest covers of 2017 yet, with the word Hebrew spelled out in its own language and stretched across the full length of the book jacket in luscious watercolor calligraphy. For those beckoned by the deepening shades and delicate wisps of blue scrawled against the volume’s blank canvas of textured white, dive into the speech, preservation, and literature of Hebrew from the opening verse of Genesis through ancient Israel, the two-century Diaspora, and the modern period of post-Holocaust Judaism.

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Book Cover of the Week: On Turpentine Lane

Tuesday, January 24, 2017 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

It’s been kind of a topsy-turvy week, so the image of a quaint suburban house ripped from the earth and spun like Dorothy Gale’s twister-borne home feels about right at the moment:

As bizarrely inviting as the picture is, it’s the details that make this book cover special: the flying SOLD sign, the sensible brown shoe flying off the foot one of the three figures rattling around inside the suspended house, the sheet of paper blown against the leg of another, the plaid lining of the open trench coat… The detail of the illustrations translates the care with which Elinor Lipman has crafted the Jewish family at the heart of her latest novel. On Turpentine Lane follows private school director of stewardship Faith Frankel as she struggles with an absent fiancée, a cloying mother, an unfaithful father with illusions of artistic grandeur, and an officemate whose friendship might be growing a little too close…

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Book Cover of the Week: The Widow of Wall Street

Tuesday, January 10, 2017 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

If you enjoy dark fiction about family relationships and deception, keep an eye out for a new novel coming out this April from bestselling author Randy Susan Meyers:

You gotta love a glitzy book cover. The Widow of Wall Street opens in 2009 with a visit to the Ray Brook Federal Correctional Institution, where Phoebe Pierce’s husband, Jake, is imprisoned on fraud charges following the discovery of the elaborate Ponzi scheme upon which he built their fortune. The novel follows Phoebe from the beginnings of her relationship with Jake in the summer of 1960 through the present day, living with her husband’s notoriety and the world’s censure and suspicion, reminding readers with that sparkly city skyline that all that glitters is not gold.

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Book Cover of the Week: Breaking the Chains of Gravity

Thursday, January 05, 2017 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

I’m not sure I can express how much I am looking forward to seeing Theodore Melfi’s Hidden Figures this weekend: the incredible true story of three black female mathematicians who helped NASA launch John Glenn into orbit in 1962 hits theaters tomorrow! While the film is based on a Margot Lee Shetterly book of the same title, I have my nose buried in a different relevant read:

Amy Shira Teitel’s Breaking the Chains of Gravity: The Story of Spaceflight before NASA begins in the spring of 1930, following the German rocket program from the Wehrmacht through World War II and its postwar integration into the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), the United States federal agency founded in 1915 and absorbed into the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958 under President Eisenhower—in response to the October 1957 launch of Sputnik by the Soviet Union. This fascinating historical account is a an excellent companion to Michael Chabon’s recent novel Moonglow, which depicts many of the same events, programs, and engineers introduced here in Amy Shira Teitel’s nonfiction debut.

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Book Cover of the Week: E. L. Doctorow's Collected Stories

Tuesday, December 20, 2016 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

A year and a half after the passing of “the reigning godfather of historical fiction,” a new collection of fifteen stories written, selected, revised, and ordered by E. L. Doctorow himself comes out January 2017:

You have to admire the understated design of the book cover. The off-center positioning of the stylized initial heightens the impact of the graphic and lures the reader to follow the subtle arrow of the arc aligned with the volume’s edge and open the book. It captures a feeling of forward motion, throwing into relief Doctorow’s capacity to tell stories of the future by setting them in the past. Pick up a copy of Doctorow: Collected Stories and you'll see what I mean.

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Book Cover of the Week: The Menorah

Tuesday, December 13, 2016 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

Perhaps one of the best religious traditions I have adopted for myself as an adult is hearing the Book of Lamentations read at Congregation Shearith Israel, the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue on New York’s Upper West Side, on the Eve of Tisha B’Av each year. It is a beautiful, eerie service held in the dark, followed by a lecture relating to the Jewish observance of the saddest day in the Hebrew year.

In his lecture this past summer, Rabbi Meir Soloveitchik brought up a custom of the Jews of Rome connecting Tisha B’Av to Hanukkah, which is nearly upon us now: members of this community read the Book of Lamentations by candlelight and preserve what remains of each taper, keeping the candle in their homes to use as the shamash on the first night of Hanukkah several months later. This practice is rife with symbolism, related to imagery and significance of the Arch of Titus—I wish I could go into more detail, but that would be plagiarism.

Instead, I am happy to direct readers to a short essay on the Yeshiva University blog, written by Dr. Steven Fine, the author of our Book Cover of the Week!

The Menorah: From the Bible to Modern Israel focuses particularly on the Arch of Titus and Fine’s discovery of the original yellow ochre paint for the menorah in its relief, depicting Titus’s triumphal return from Jerusalem with the treasures of the Temple he destroyed at the end of a bicentennial of Jewish uprising against pagan enemies and oppressors that began with the Maccabees. So yes, I do understand the difference between a menorah and a chanukkiah, but this book still makes for a great Hanukkah read!

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