What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank by Nathan Englander

These eight new stories from the celebrated novelist and short-story writer Nathan Englander display a gifted young author grappling with the great questions of modern life, with a command of language and the imagination that place Englander at the very forefront of contemporary American fiction.

The title story, inspired by Raymond Carver’s masterpiece, is a provocative portrait of two marriages in which the Holocaust is played out as a devastating parlor game. In the outlandishly dark “Camp Sundown” vigilante justice is undertaken by a group of geriatric campers in a bucolic summer enclave. “Free Fruit for Young Widows” is a small, sharp study in evil, lovingly told by a father to a son. “Sister Hills” chronicles the history of Israel’s settlements from the eve of the Yom Kippur War through the present, a political fable constructed around the tale of two mothers who strike a terrible bargain to save a child. Marking a return to two of Englander’s classic themes, “Peep Show” and “How We Avenged the Blums” wrestle with sexual longing and ingenuity in the face of adversity and peril. And “Everything I Know About My Family on My Mother’s Side” is suffused with an intimacy and tenderness that break new ground for a writer who seems constantly to be expanding the parameters of what he can achieve in the short form.

Visit Nathan Englander's official website, and check out the transcript from our March 27th Twitter discussion with him below! Make sure to follow the Jewish Book Council (@jewishbook) and search #JBCBooks to follow the next conversation!

JewishBook: Annnd Twitter Book Club - What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank - startssss NOW! w/ #jbcbooks and @nathanenglander

JewishBook: Hi @nathanenglander! Thanks for joining Twitter Book Club today- excited to discuss your newest book of short stories! #jbcbooks

NathanEnglander: @jewishbook Alright then. I've got my seatbelt on. #jbcbooks

JewishBook: Yes. Get ready! @NathanEnglander We'll start off with a serious question first :) #jbcbooks

JewishBook: @nathanenglander can you fill in the blank? “when you read my book, you should feel ___” uncomfortable? heartbroken? alive?#jbcbooks

NathanEnglander@JewishBook Ah, I can't fill in the blank on that one. Outside of my intent. My obligation to the story. I'd never say how to read #jbcbooks

BookGal102@nathanenglander how did it feel to get back into writing short stories (after The Ministry...)? #jbcbooks

NathanEnglander@BookGal102 Working in new forms, translating, playwriting, reminded me of where I started & got me excited about story again #jbcbooks

NathanEnglander ah well what if we revised to "you may feel ___?" you must have had a certain emotional intent when writing #jbcbooks

NathanEnglander@JewishBook Again, there's plenty of emotion, but not emotional intent. It's always about the demands of the story. That's my job.#jbcbooks

BookGal102@NathanEnglander What are the pros of the short story form vs. the novel for you? #JBCBooks

NathanEnglander@BookGal102 When it's stories, I'll tell you there's nothing like short story. A pressurized, complete world in natural story form #jbcbooks

NathanEnglander@BookGal102 Whatever form I'm working in becomes all consuming. And I get quite convinced that it's the supreme form. #jbcbooks

NaomiFirestone: Speaking of form, @NathanEnglander, what are your thoughts on e-pub? Are you thinking of creative ways to use... #JBCBooks

NaomiFirestone: ...e-books beyond just transferring the text from one form to another? #JBCBooks

NaomiFirestoneThere are obviously a lot of possibilities...have you seriously considered any? #JBCBooks

NathanEnglander: @NaomiFirestone So much is shifting toward the digital. But I hope it would add something--that's what I look for in that format. #jbcbooks

NathanEnglander@NaomiFirestone I learned a lot working with @ElectricLit on "The Reader". They make use of the format with their animations, etc.#jbcbooks

NaomiFirestone: .@NathanEnglander The animated short was great. Do you have more videos, or similar projectsm in the works related to... #JBCBooks

NaomiFirestone: @NathanEnglander… the collection? #jbcbooks

 NathanEnglander@NaomiFirestone Been doing lots of projects with lots of folks lately. Really enjoying collaboration. Next up is the play. #jbcbooks

JewishBook: .@nathanenglander, "next up is the play?" can you elaborate on that at all? we haven't heard about it! #jbcbooks

NathanEnglander@JewishBook Sure. The play is based on my story "The Twenty-seventh Man." It's opening The Public Theater in November.#jbcbooks

JewishBook: .@NathanEnglander so what was it about Carver's story "What We Talk About... Love" that inspired you to write your version? #jbcbooks

NathanEnglander@JewishBook It's not the Carver story that sparked the idea. It was the story taking shape that recalled the memory of the Carver.#jbcbooks

NathanEnglander@JewishBook Basically, we're going to have to find twitterable metaphysics to talk about the connection to the Carver story.#jbcbooks

JewishBook: .@NathanEnglander Were any of your other stories inspired in any way by specific works? #JBCBooks

NathanEnglander@JewishBook Two of the stories were inspired by the Israeli writer Etgar Keret. Not by his work. By his person. #jbcbooks

clearlynaomi: hi @nathanenglander, are any of the stories drawn from personal experiences you can share? #jbcbooks

NathanEnglander@clearlynaomi I'd say all stories have a personal element, I've just used more distant settings in the past. #jbcbooks

NathanEnglander@clearlynaomi But "How We Avenged The Blums" has plenty of historical anchoring in it, though very much a fiction. #jbcbooks

JewishBook: .@NathanEnglander Can you be more specific about Etgar Keret as inspiration? #jbcbooks

NathanEnglander@JewishBook I did a talk with Etgar in Italy a few years back. And 2 of the stories were sparked by things discussed that night. #jbcbooks

MelBroms: .@NathanEnglander who were you reading as you were writing What We Talk About? #jbcbooks

NathanEnglander@MelBroms Yes, yes, always reading. (Sometimes painfully slowly, sometimes devouring.) Lots of plays, that year. #jbcbooks

JCCBookFestival@NathanEnglander speaking of collaboration, how was it to work with Jonathan Safran Foer on the new Haggadah #jbcbooks

NathanEnglander@JCCBookFestival I have to say, it's been a great pleasure working with friends on projects. Foer & I had a wonderful time. #jbcbooks

AdamTeeter@nathanenglander do you ever feel sorry for your characters? is there any story the reading public gets particularly upset over?#jbcbooks

NathanEnglander@AdamTeeter That's takes some thinking...I empathize with all of them, deeply-deeply. But it's a very specific kind of interaction#jbcbooks

NathanEnglander@AdamTeeter What I've noticed, re: audience reaction, is this book functioning like a Rorschach. People seeing all & its opposite.#jbcbooks

RachMcLennan: Interesting - @NathanEnglander Twitter chat with @JewishBook right now. #jbcbooks

NathanEnglander@RachMcLennan Thanks for checking in. #jbcbooks

sharonlikestone: .@nathanenglander w/ @jccbookfestival so we’re heading into pesach now-- will you be reading from your haggadah this year?#jbcbooks

NathanEnglander@sharonlikestone I won't be forcing anyone from my table to read from it. But I'll go to a Seder, and I imagine it will be there. #jbcbooks

sharonlikestone: @nathanenglander uhhh if i wrote or edited a high acclaimed book i'd definitely be forcing it on my whole family ; ) but i understand!

NathanEnglander@sharonlikestone That's funny. Maybe I assume they already feel forced. JSFoer and I both expect to find them on the table. #jbcbooks

JewishBook.@NathanEnglander Which other Haggadot would you recommend?#JBCBooks

NathanEnglander@RachMcLennan Thanks so much. A first, on this end. I usually answer 1 question for 45 minutes. Not vice versa. #jbcbooks

PublicTheaterNY: Follow #jbcbooks for Twitter chat w/ Nathan Englander, whose play The Twenty-seventh Man" is part of our 12-13 season. Happening RIGHT NOW.

NathanEnglander: That's easy. There are endless Haggadot. If you've got a special interest, there's one to match (likely five). #jbcbooks

AdamTeeter:.@nathanenglander are you surprised to see the New American Haggadah on the best seller list? It seems to be the gift to give.#jbcbooks

NathanEnglander@AdamTeeter I don't think I could be more surprised by the attention the Haggadah is getting. #jbcbooks

NaomiFirestone: .@NathanEnglander did Twitter inspire the format of Everything I Know About My Mother’s Side at all? :) #JBCBooks

NathanEnglander@NaomiFirestone Not inspired by Twitter, sadly. Inspired by the idea of giant many-chaptered family sagas, compressed. #jbcbooks

JewishBook.@nathanenglander is there any question you’ve always wanted to ask readers of your stories? cause this is your chance! #jbcbooks

NathanEnglander@JewishBook Ah, I'd never ask a question--for fear it might get answered. #LiveAndDieByTheRulesOfParanoia #jbcbooks

saraivry: hey ppl. got a question for dr @NathanEnglander? pals here tell me he's taking them, but use the #jbcbooks hashtag. k? have a blessed day.

BookGal102: .@nathanenglander who are you reading now? Can you recommend any other current short story collections? #jbcbooks

NathanEnglander@saraivry You're nice, Sergeant Ivry. Yes, yes, been taking questions at #jbcbooks--but disappearing again in a flash. Hope you're good.

NathanEnglander@BookGal102 Story collections? Endless. Collected John Cheever a big fat classic. How about Everything Ravaged Everything Burned? #jbcbooks

MandellJCCArts: Following #jbcbooks right now - @JewishBook is chatting with @NathanEnglander!

wordwhacker@NathanEnglander @JewishBook Just saw you on my stream and dropped in to say how much I admire both of you. #jbcbooks

wordwhacker@NathanEnglander #paranoiatendstogetintheway #jbcbooks

JewishBook: .@NathanEnglander hah don't underestimate your loyal fans! but unfortunately we can't push the question again- no time :(

AAKnopfWhat do you talk about when you talk about anne frank? @JewishBook is with @NathanEnglander right now! join in! #jbcbooks

JewishBook: .@NathanEnglander thanks for joining Twitter Book Club today! Hopefully you had as good of a fast-paced tweeting time as we did :)

NathanEnglander: @JewishBook It was my pleasure. And a lovely idea on your part. So there. Thanks so much. #jbcbooks

erikadreifus: Had a great meeting, but it looks as though I JUST missed@JewishBook chat w/Nathan Englander. Will look forward to transcript. #JBCBooks