On November 9, 2013, Congregation Shir Hadash hosted a discussion of recent Jewish books as part of our Community Shabbat Service. The books which were discussed are:
- El Iluminado by Ilan Stavans and Steve W Sheinkin
With the crypto-Jews of the Southwest as a focus, this entertaining graphic novel reads like a Jewish
Da Vinci Codemystery. Read the review.
- When They Come for Us, We’ll Be Gone by Gal Beckerman
This book reads like a espionage thriller, but is a recounting of the struggle to save Soviet Jewry, focusing on both American and Russian history and with the suggestion that what took place had a casual effect on the eventual downfall of the Soviet Union.
- The Arrogant Years: One Girl’s Search for her Lost Youth, from Cairo to Brooklyn by Lucette Lagnado
The author looks to the women sequestered behind the wooden screen at her childhood synagogue, to the young coeds at Vassar and Columbia in the 1970s, to her own mother and the women of their past in Cairo, and reflects on their stories as she struggles to make sense of her own choices. Read the review.
- The Hostage by Elie Wiesel
This new Wiesel novel ties together the Holocaust and Palestinian terrorism in a story that deals with the surprisingly similar personal experiences of both the perpetrators and the victims of each of these struggles. Read the review.
- Boxer Beetle by Ned Beauman (Winner of the Guardian First Book Award)
While delving into online Nazi memorabilia the main character stumbles upon a crime scene and finds himself on a long-cold trail of players in interwar British history. Read the review.
- The Frozen Rabbi by Steve Stern
A virtuosic novel that plows through Jewish mysticism, history, and modernism with a huge cast of characters. Read the New York Times’ review.
- Is Superman Jewish? How Comic Book Superheroes Came to Serve Truth, Justice and the Jewish American Way by Harry Brod
Presents a powerful and witty look at the famous comic book superheroes fashioned out of centuries of Jewish historical, theological and experiential culture. Read the review.
- Nemesis by Philip Roth (Shortlisted for the 2011 Welcome Trust Book Prize)
Explores the effect of a 1944 polio epidemic on a closely knit family-oriented Newark Jewish community of Weequahic. Roth examines some of the central themes of pestilence: fear, panic, anger, guilt, bewilderment, suffering and pain. Read the review.
- The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson
Award winning comic British novel about the strands of experience that three men share in a long friendship, highlighting the gripping questions of their current Jewish identity. Read the review.
- To the End of the Land by David Grossman
This powerful Israeli novel tells about the way in which public life seeps into individual experience and history. Read the review.
- Mitzvah Man by John J Clayton
Uses a simple story line – the loss of a beloved spouse – to ask big questions. Carefully drawing his main characters, a bereaved husband and his barely teenage daughter, he moves them through encounters with friends and relatives to elicit universal themes, and asks the question: what is life about? Read the review.
Reviews and comments about these books were provided by our members.