The ProsenPeople

Conversations on Jewish American Lit in the Blogosphere

Monday, April 27, 2009 | Permalink
Posted by Naomi Firestone-Teeter

The “Slouching Towards Bushwick” blog outlines recent articles examining New American Jewish Literature, specifically highlighting the earlier mentioned article "The New Yiddishists", here.

Rise of the New Yiddishists

Monday, April 20, 2009 | Permalink

Posted by Naomi Firestone-Teeter

Vanity Fair explores the next generation of Jewish authors:

Thirty years ago the American Jewish fiction of Philip Roth and Saul Bellow was all about Yiddish insults, blonde shiksas, and getting away from the past. Today’s talented crop of young Jewish writers, such as Nathan Englander, Michael Chabon, and Dara Horn, are weaving tales bound in a newfound ethnic pride that has revitalized Jewish literature in America.

To read the complete article, please click here.

Josh Lambert on MyJewishLearning

Wednesday, March 18, 2009 | Permalink

Posted by Naomi Firestone-Teeter

Josh Lambert (American Jewish Fiction: JPS Guide) writes on “Judging a Book by More than Its Cover: Charting the Landscape of American Jewish Literature–125 books at a time” for (we love the new site design!) here.

And Lambert is is building a comprehensive bibliography of American Jewish fiction on the web…check it out here:

Stayed tuned for an article by Lambert in the Summer issue of Jewish Book World

From the HBI

Friday, December 19, 2008 | Permalink

Posted by Naomi Firestone-Teeter

Two endeavors from the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute worth checking out:

Jewish Fiction Goes Outside of the Box

For the 2nd annual issue on Jewish books, 614: The HBI eZine found young Jewish women who were writing about themes we haven’t seen dozens of times. This is why you’ll find mention in this issue of cowboys, Madame Bovary, a modern day Jewish heiress, a 12-year-old Iranian, Jewish spies, and a heroic German baker. Rather than post book reviews, we talked to the authors behind these stories and asked them about the inspirations for their books, and also what they think about today’s Jewish fiction in general. Meet Joanna Hershon, Tova Mirvis, Laurie Gwen Shapiro, Dara Horn, Jenna Blum, and Gina Nahai. For more information, please click here.

HBI Announces Book Translation Competition

The Hadassah-Brandeis Institute is pleased to announce an annual competition to translate a book on a topic that deals in a significant way with Jews and gender. The amount of money that will be awarded is contingent on the particular translation needs of the book. The award goes exclusively towards the translation costs. Applications are due by November 15, 2009, and decisions will be announced by February 15, 2010. For guidelines and submission instructions, please click here.

Jewish Fiction Writers' Conference

Tuesday, December 09, 2008 | Permalink

Posted by Naomi Firestone-Teeter

The 92nd Street Y and the Jewish Book Council have teamed up to bring you the First Annual Jewish Fiction Writers’ Conference. If you write adult fiction for the Jewish market, this conference is for you! Meet with top professionals from the publishing world. Whether you are a new author or have already been published, this is your opportunity to network with the experts who can help you get your work into print. The conference will be held at the 92nd Street Y ( 1395 Lexington Avenue (NY, NY)) on Sunday, March 15th from 9am-5pm.

The fee to attend is $115 before February 16, $135 after February 16, and this includes kosher breakfast and lunch.

Programs will include:

Let’s Talk: Publicity Beyond Your Bubby’s Friends 
Shira Dicker (Shira Dicker Media International) and Cary Goldstein (Warner Twelve)

Publishing Your Jewish Short Stories
Erika Dreifus (The Practicing Writer:

Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make Me a Match 

David Forrer (Inkwell Management)

Today I Am An Author: The First Steps into Literary Adulthood
Jeffrey Hantover, Liel Leibovitz, and Darin Strauss

Yes, It’s the Best Book I’ve Read Since the Bible, But…
Lara Heinert (Basic Books) and Altie Karper (Schocken Books/Random House)

Why Is This Story Different Than All Other Stories?

Binnie Kirshenbaum (Columbia University Graduate School of Arts)

Which Came First, the Bagels or the Lox? The Basics of Publishing Marketing
Elisabeth Scharlatt (Algonquin Books)

For information or to register, please call 212-415-5544 or e-mail

AJL Launches Podcast

Friday, December 05, 2008 | Permalink

Posted by Naomi Firestone-Teeter

For those looking to add to their Jewish literary podcast subscriptions, take a look at the new podcasts from the Association of Jewish Libraries. The podcasts will feature author talks, lectures on Jewish literature, panel discussions, and workshops.

“Jews are book lovers, and Jewish librarians even more so,” says Susan Dubin, President of the Association of Jewish Libraries. “The AJL Podcast gives us a way to share our enthusiasm with others, without geographical or scheduling restrictions. Now everyone can learn and enjoy!”

To access the podcasts, please click here.

Take a look for yourself and let us know what you think!

Celebrate Israel with AJL

Monday, November 10, 2008 | Permalink

Posted by Naomi Firestone-Teeter

The Association of Jewish Libraries just released a new reading list on Israel for adults and children. The list, called Israel@60, includes more than 30 fiction and nonfiction titles as well as websites and videos. Check it out here.

Jewish? Or not? Jewish? Or not? Jewish...

Wednesday, November 05, 2008 | Permalink

Posted by Miri Pomerantz-Dauber

What to do about books with Jewish characters–who are clearly Jewish–but with a plot that is not at all about being Jewish? When the story could be just as easily about someone not Jewish…only it isn’t. Is this Jewish literature? Maybe not. But it’s a book about Jews. So then what? Do Jews make the literature Jewish? Is any book narrated by a female character necessarily “women’s literature”? But then, how could the culture, any culture that surrounds a lead character, not infuse the plot, seep into the structure of the story? And if the story as a whole is influenced by a culture, then doesn’t that put that book, that story, into the category of that culture? In this scenario, Jewish culture and Jewish literature specifically. There are a number of recent books that have come out in the past few years whose characters are Jewish, whose tones are Jewish, but–if asked to point to the Jewish content…well, it would be hard to find something explicit other than it being about people who happen to be Jews. What to do when, for many, the Jewish experience is not really about the actions or structures of Judaism, but more broadly defined. And therefore, these new works of literature couldn’t really be said to be overtly Jewish. Do we extend our definition? But then, how many “Jewish” books from previous generations, those about immigrants on the Lower East Side, for example, were really about being Jewish as opposed to being about Jews who are living a particular experience?

Jewish, Sad, Young, and Literary

Wednesday, November 05, 2008 | Permalink

Posted by Naomi Firestone-Teeter

Over the past weekend I found myself completely absorbed in the literary universe of Joanna Smith Rakoff ‘s debut novel A Fortunate Age and wondering about the next generation of Jewish authors to emerge onto the literary scene. Rakoff’s novel opens with the line “[o]n a gray October day in 1998, Lillian Roth found herself walking down the stone-floored aisle of Temple Emanu-El, clad in a gown of dark ivory satin and flanked by her thin, smiling parents, who had flow into New York from Los Angeles…,” setting the stage for a cast of disillusioned twenty-somethings in search of their place in 21st century Manhattan. The “set” of friends (as Lillian Roth deems them) that Rakoff has envisioned seek to carve lives for themselves that evoke their liberal arts education, their intellectual capacity, and their nostalgia for the good old day of a more radically, intellectually charged Manhttan. For several of Rakoff’s characters, their Jewish heritage becomes a part of the backdrop–their Judaism is not front and center–but it’s a part of their foundation, making brief appearances throughout the book. None of the characters are particularly religious (although one does end up exploring Israel outside the boundaries of the narrative), and none comment on their Judaism as a negative factor within their life (or particularly positive)–it’s just a fact. They don’t wear it on their sleeve, but it’s there on the first page of the book, and it seeps back in throughout the course of the narrative.

Prior to reading Rakoff’s novel, I had just finished Keith Gessen’s All the Sad Young Literary Men, which muses on a similar set of characters (albeit male) facing similar questions at the turn of the 21st century. Where does the liberally arts educated, idealistic, intellectual end up in today’s world? What does it mean to (finally) finish your Ph.D.? What’s next? Success? Failure? Disillusionment? Reality? Gessen’s debut novel touches on questions related to Judaism (specifically Israel) more directly than Rakoff, specifically in the character of Sam who sets himself to the task of writing the the Great Zionist novel (having never been to Israel), naively (he’s Jewish, so he must identify with Israel, right?) attempting to weave Israel into his identity. Like Rakoff’s novel, none of Gessen’s characters are particularly religious, but their Judaism does exist as inescapable part of their identity—even if it is is mostly in the backdrop. How does the non-religious, liberally arts educated, Jew, incorporate Judaism into their life without the traditional foundation? And then what does this mean for their children? How does Israel factor in? Does Jewish = Israel?

Two novels in two weeks that focus on Jewish twenty-something liberal arts graduates searching for themselves…with a little Judaism thrown in? A trend? We’ll keep you posted.