December 12, 2011
No one can quite agree what is a ‘Jewish’ book. I’ll refrain from that debate. But given that Hanukkah is approaching, I thought I’d share nine books, most published in 2011, with at least a bit of Jewish flavor.
Some use Judaism as their focus. Others weave in Jewish characters. One is all about Jewish cooking. Why list nine? One for each candle that will glow on Jewish menorahs the world over on the last night of Hanukkah. Preferring not to get into a ranking game, I’ve listed the books based on their publication date – from newest to oldest. Happy Hanukkah. Happy reading.
2. Little Bride by Anna Solomon. (September, Riverhead Books) This meticulously researched novel is a wonderful read about a Jewish mail-order bride’s struggles to survive in rural South Dakota.
3. The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon. (May, Grand Central Publishing). Simon’s gripping novel, a New York Times bestseller, opens our hearts and minds to people with disabilities. I interviewed Simon for a past post.
4. Quiet Americans by Erika Dreifus. (January, Last Light Studios) Dreifus, in her riveting collection of short stories, makes us realize why there are always new, compelling ways to write fiction about the Holocaust. She, too, chatted with me for a previous post.
5. Good Eggs by Phoebe Potts. (Harper, 2010) Potts’ graphic memoir uses humor to deal with the painful topic of infertility and the complicated topic of journeying closer to Judaism. Read more about her in my Forward Sisterhood blog post.
6. Quiche, Kugels, and Couscous, My Search for Jewish Cooking in France by Joan Nathan. (Knopf, 2010) Nathan gives us numerous recipes to try and even better, a taste for both the food and history of Jews in France.
7. Devotion by Dani Shapiro. (HarperCollins, 2010) This elegant, honest memoir chronicles Shapiro’s journey closer to her faith and her love for yoga. I interviewed her shortly after the book came out. See, too, my piece about her in Writer.
8. Day After Night by Anita Diamant. (Scribner, 2009) Diamant’s novel takes us to a place most of us never heard of before — Atlit, a British detention camp in Palestine. She fictionalizes the story of the 1945 rescue of Jewish refugees. See my previous post about one of Diamant’s talks.
9. Mrs. Greenberg’s Messy Hanukkah by Linda Glaser, illustrated by Nancy Cote. (Albert Whitman & Company, 2004) This children’s book came to our house, courtesy of the PJ Library program, just a few weeks ago. Already, my son, nearly 4, loves it. It’s a funny, poignant story with a sweet message. Don’t worry about the mess. Make latkes, let your child help, and celebrate Hanukkah with friends.