The Newsletter of Fig Tree Books LLC
May 2022: Issue #30
Fredric D. Price, Founder & Publisher
CHAPTERS: The Girl Who Knew Everything,
by Nina Vida

Oh, Ted, brown-eyed, sweet-lipped Ted, knight of my dreams, blood of my veins, pulse of my heart, was there ever a more love-struck girl than me? I’d do anything for you. Anything. Why else would I, a Jew in name only, be learning Hebrew if not to maybe, possibly, miraculously catch a glimpse of you in the house where you live and where Rabbi Goren’s Hebrew class is about to begin?
I’m 88 years old.  I’m not planning to die any time soon, but my memoir, The Girl Who Knew Everything, is probably my last hurrah, my chance to explore my forgiveness of my husband's infidelity, my best friend's descent into the ravages of Huntington’s disease, and the soul-crunching murder of my beloved grandmother. In other words, a chronicle of a woman's life in the not-so-innocent America of the 1950s. My short story “A Whirligig of Regulations and Caveats” appeared in the December 2021 issue of Fig Tree Lit.
ESSAY: The Persistence of Yellow, by Lucienne Bloch
Some years ago my husband and I went plot shopping, a sensible project for people our age, one then nearing senior citizenship and the other already there. We wanted to explore our options, make an informed decision about buying our last shared bed. We did not think our shopping was morbid, laced as it was with a jigger of strong eau de vie. Nor did we believe we were tempting fate, as genuinely superstitious people believe they are doing if they speak the name of a disease or mention an event they dread. Buying our plot was another sort of retirement plan to make, one for the uncharted future.

I was born in Belgium, raised in New York City, and graduated from Wellesley College, where I received an Academy of American Poets Award, and the New England Poetry Society’s Joyce Glueck Prize. I began writing fiction after raising three children. My first novel, On the Great-Circle Route, was published by Simon & Schuster. My second novel, Finders, Keepers, was published by Houghton Mifflin. I wrote “Hers” columns for The New York Times. I was a Resident Fellow at Yaddo, and was awarded a New York State Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Fiction. One of my short stories was chosen for the PEN Syndicated Fiction project, appeared in newspapers throughout America, and was anthologized in The Sound of Writing. Other stories were published in the O. Henry Festival Stories, Literary Calvacade, and similar magazines. I have been writing personal essays for the past sixteen years.
SHORT STORY: Sounds in the Silence, by Judith Hannan
Sometimes, in the middle of a summer night, when we all slept with our windows open, I heard screams coming from Myra’s house. Then their kitchen light went on and I watched as Mrs. Abramson got milk from the refrigerator and poured it into a pan on the stove while Mr. Abramson shuffled over to the table. When the milk was ready, they sat across from each other, heads bowed, hands cupped around their mugs. There was no way they could see me in the dark through their lit window, but Mr. Abramson often pointed a shaky finger in my direction and then their lights went out.

Judith Hannan is the author of the memoir Motherhood Exaggerated (CavanKerry Press) and a guide for writing about illness. Her writing has appeared in such publications as Lilith Magazine, The Washington Post, Narratively, Opera News, among others. She is a writing mentor for those affected by illness, trauma, and social neglect.
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JEWS OF DIFFERENT HUES: Mexican writer's novels explore her Sephardic history and crypto-Judaism

When Angelina Muñiz-Huberman was six years old, her mother shut the main door of their apartment in Mexico City and, whispering as if under persecution, told her that she was descended from Jews.
“She told me that if I ever needed to get recognized by other fellow Jews,” Muñiz-Huberman said, “I should make the sign of the kohanim” — a hand gesture representing an ancient priestly blessing, made famous in a different context by a certain “Star Trek” character.
STORIES: Food Themes, by Alex Yanishevsky
Ukraine is not a foodie destination and it does not have the culinary prestige of Italy or France. It makes sense that most people will not be tripping over themselves to make dinner reservations to restaurants that serve borscht, cabbage dumplings and potatoes. However, people of all nationalities and religions in Ukraine swear by salo (in fact, it is so popular that in 2008 Ukrainians created a political party for Lovers of Salo.
Alex Yanishevsky was born in the Soviet Union and emigrated to the US with his family at age seven. He attended Brandeis University for Art History with a minor in Russian Literature. Alex obtained a Ph.D. in Slavic Languages from Brown University and taught Russian language and literature at Bates and Holy Cross. He has been working in the translation industry for over 15 years. His translations of modern Russian authors were published by Hermitage Press; the book is called Times of Turmoil - His personal website contains original humorous poetry and literary translations, His work focuses on the émigré experience, the balance between retaining the vestiges of a minority culture against the backdrop of a profoundly different majority culture.
BOOK REVIEW: Concealed, by Esther Amini
All too often, memoirs are ginned up self-indulgent call-outs by those who, it is oftentimes true, have overcome long odds to participate in the American dream, frequently cataloging financial or political success. Power to them. But it’s a misery to have to suffer through their thinly-disguised boasts and accolades from third parties (frequently, sycophants). Fortunately, none of this was in play when I read Esther Amini’s brilliant (yes, that’s NOT hyperbolic) memoir Concealed.
Esther Amini is a writer, painter, and psychoanalytic psychotherapist in private practice. Her short stories have appeared in Elle, Lilith, Tablet, The Jewish Week, Barnard Magazine, Washburn University’s Inscape Literary Journal, and Proximity. She was named one of Aspen Words’ two best emerging memoirists and awarded its Emerging Writer Fellowship in 2016 based on her memoir entitled: “Concealed” and was chosen by JWT as their Artist-in-Residence in 2019. Her pieces have been performed by Jewish Women’s Theatre in Los Angeles and in Manhattan. She lives in New York City with her husband. Concealed is her debut memoir.
ESSAY: Blood Borscht, by Abby Richmond
I’m not vegan and I’m not religious and I’m not particularly attached to beets, but I am convinced that, if I attempt to cook this recipe for vegan borscht soup, I may find God.
Abby Richmond is a senior at Columbia University, where she is finishing up her degree in English Literature. When she’s not studying, Abby works as an editor for the Jewish Women’s Archive (JWA), serves on the executive board of Columbia Planned Parenthood, and teaches creative writing to children. Abby’s work has previously been published by JWA and the Modern Language Association.
MY JEWISH YEAR: Chapter 18,
Yom Hashoah, by Abigail Pogrebin
Each student walks onstage holding the hand of the survivor
whose biography he or she will recount. It is an unspoken promise
from the child to the elder: I will tell your story. We are holding on—
not just to history, but to you.

I am at the JCC in Manhattan at a performance called Witness
Theater on the eve of Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Ten kids from two schools—Abraham Joshua Heschel and Trinity—
have partnered with seven Holocaust survivors to dramatize their
stories after months of interviews.
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