Jai Chakrabarti in Conversation with JBC’s Editorial Director Becca Kantor
National Jewish Book Award winner Jai Chakrabarti (A Play for the End of the World) had his life changed when he discovered Bernard Malamud’s The Magic Barrel at a used bookstore in a suburb of India. This year is the 65th anniversary of the book’s publication, as well as the 65th anniversary of Bernard Malamud receiving the National Jewish Book Award for another work of his, The Assistant. Becca Kantor, editorial director of the Jewish Book Council (which administers the National Jewish Book Award), talks to Jai about his newest book and the impact and legacy of Malamud’s work.
Jai Chakrabarti is the author of the novel A Play for the End of the World, which won the National Jewish Book Award for debut fiction, was the Association of Jewish Libraries Honor Book, was shortlisted for the Rabindranath Tagore Prize, and was longlisted for the PEN/Faulkner Award. His nonfiction has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, Writer’s Digest, Berfrois, and LitHub. He was an emerging writer fellow with A Public Space, received an MFA in Creative Writing from Brooklyn College, and is a trained computer scientist. Born in Kolkata, India, he now lives in New York with his family.
Becca Kantor is the editorial director of Jewish Book Council and its annual print literary journal, Paper Brigade. She received an MA in creative writing from the University of East Anglia. Becca spent a year in Estonia on a Fulbright scholarship, writing and studying the country’s Jewish history, and another year in Germany volunteering at the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial. She lives in Brooklyn.
This program is part of the Books That Changed My Life Festival, a new initiative that celebrates the transformational role books play in our lives through a two-month celebration of literature and culture. Click here to learn more.
Shop the festival books with our partner, Books Are Magic, a family-owned independent bookstore in Brooklyn, committed to being a welcoming, friendly, and inclusive space for all people.
Books That Changed My Life Festival is made possible thanks to The Harold Anfang Foundation and the Israel Office of Cultural Affairs, Consulate General of Israel New York.