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Book Recommendations

Life on SandpaperLife on Sandpaper

Yoram Kaniuk; Anthony Berris, trans.

Dalkey Archive Press, 2011. $15.95


A whirlwind of art, music, and lust, Life on Sandpaper is Yoram Kaniuk's overwhelming autobiographical novel detailing his years as a young painter in the New York of the '50s. Wounded and alienated, a war veteran at the age of nineteen, Kaniuk arrives in Greenwich Village at its peak period of artistic creativity, and finds his way among such cultural giants as Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday, Willem de Kooning, Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra. In terse prose, inspired by the associative and breathless drive of bebop, Kaniuk's memories race between the ecstatic devotion of his beloved Harlem jazz clubs, through the ideological spats of the dying Yiddish world of the Lower East Side, to the volcanic gush of passion, pain, art, dance, alcohol, and drugs that was Greenwich Village. Kanuik's stories roll and tumble here with hypnotic urgency, as if this were his last opportunity to remember, and tell, before all is obliterated.

Oracle of Stamboul
The Oracle of Stamboul
Michael David Lukas
Harper, 2011. $24.99


Set in the heart of the exotic Ottoman Empire during the first years of its chaotic decline, Michael David Lukas' debut novel follows a gifted young girl, Eleonora Cohen, who dares to charm a sultan-and change the course of history, for the empire and the world. A literary adventure, a mixture of historical fiction and magical realism, Lukas' tale of prophesy, intrigue, and courage unfolds with the subtlety of a Turkish mosaic and powerful majesty. Read an excerpt.
Featured Event

"American Jewish Fiction: Strange and Surprising Stories"

To be presented by the Jewish Historical Society of New York

on Sunday, February 13, 2011


Josh Lambert will be the guest speaker at a meeting of the Jewish Historical Society of New York on Sunday, February 13, 2011, at 2:00 PM. The program will be held at Park East Synagogue / Minskoff Cultural Center, 164 East 68th Street, Manhattan (between Third and Lexington Avenues). There is a $5 admission charge. Subway: 6 to 68th Street.


American novels have featured Jewish characters for over a century, and these books tell strange and surprising stories about the experiences of American Jews. What sort of books should be considered Jewish American novels? What are the common narratives and tropes of such works of fiction, and why are they repeated so frequently in the literature of the United States? Who writes these books, and for what audiences? Focusing on some of the earliest and most unusual novels in the American Jewish tradition, and highlighting a few lost gems along the way, this lecture will survey the history of American Jewish fiction and discuss its achievements and possibilities.


Guest speaker Josh Lambert graduated Harvard magna cum laude and was a staff writer for the Harvard Lampoon. He received his Ph.D. in English literature in 2009 from the University of Michigan and is currently a Dorot Assistant Professor/Faculty Fellow in the Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University. He is the author of American Jewish Fiction: A JPS Guide (Jewish Publication Society, 2009) and has reviewed Jewish books for the Los Angeles Times, Forward, San Francisco Chronicle, Globe and Mail and many other newspapers and magazines. Josh also serves as a contributing writer to Tablet Magazine where he writes a weekly roundup of newly published Jewish books.


Contact: Steven Siegel � swsiegel@pipeline.com

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The Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature

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