Posted by Naomi Firestone-Teeter
Our friends over at Urim Publications connected us with one of their new colleagues in the field, Simtaot Books (translated as alleyways). Yesterday, I had a chance to sit down with Uriel Cohn, editor of Simtaot Books, to hear more about the project.
Simtaot highlights key works in modern world literature in the Hebrew language. Similar to presses like New Directions, Open Letter Books, and Dalkey Archive Press in the U.S., Simtaot aims to curate a list of outstanding works of fiction and unconventional writing from throughout the world, translate them into Hebrew, and bring them to an Israeli audience. The results are impressive. With already 5 books behind them, and about 15 more scheduled for release this year, Simtaot is making their mark on the Israeli publishing scene — generating interest and buzz throughout the country and throughout Jerusalem International Book Fair.
Simtaot is structured to produce two series, with one book from each series published each month. The first series focuses on the concept of the wanderer and on the universal quest for identity. Uriel explains that since the creation of the State of Israel a sense of diasporic longing has disappeared from the Israeli mentality. He argues that this state is an important one, and it’s important to reintroduce these themes into Israeli culture and conversation. Stressing the importance of traveling between communities to find gems to bring to the Israeli public, Uriel describes a series that will feel modern, but will come from across geographic borders and borders of time. The second series focuses on modern Jewish writers’ unconventional writing on the international scene. And…to top it off, the titles are not only interesting, but also smartly designed.
Find out about the authors included in the series here.
Originally from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Naomi is the executive director of Jewish Book Council. She graduated from Emory University with degrees in English and Art History and, in addition, studied at University College London. Prior to her role as executive director, Naomi served as the founding editor of the JBC website and blog and managing editor of Jewish Book World. In addition, she has overseen JBC’s digital initiatives, and also developed the JBC’s Visiting Scribe series and Unpacking the Book: Jewish Writers in Conversation.