Jai Chakrabar­ti in Con­ver­sa­tion with JBC’s Edi­to­r­i­al Direc­tor Bec­ca Kantor

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

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 Assis­tantBec­ca 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.