By Victor Wishna
(JTA) – When the Israelites made their exodus from Egypt, they fled in such haste that they did not have time to grab even some light reading. As Passover approaches, we don’t want you to suffer the same misfortune. So here are eight intriguing new Jewish books that you can grab right now.
All Grown Up
by Jami Attenberg
From the best-selling author of The Middlesteins comes an exceedingly funny but also tautly wrought tale about Andrea Bern, an almost-40 Jewish New Yorker who is outwardly proud to be single and child-free – but with some drugs and a little too much drinking on the side. When her niece is born with a tragic illness, Andrea’s entire family and extended circle re-examines what matters most and exactly what it means to “act your age.”
The Devil and Webster
by Jean Hanff Korelitz
Naomi Roth is both the first female president and the first Jewish president of Webster College, a fictional representation of one of those tony, liberal academic bastions that becomes the site of a student protest after a professor is denied tenure. But when Roth’s own daughter joins the fray, and a charismatic Palestinian student emerges as the movement’s leader, Naomi must contend with crisis on multiple fronts.
The Dog’s Last Walk
by Howard Jacobson
Jacobson’s newest collection of journalistic essays, available now as an e-book; the hardcover lands this summer, allows you to digest and enjoy the Man Booker Prize-winning novelist’s writing in smaller bites. The prolific Jacobson waxes poetic – and provocative and playful and poignant, often from a distinctly Jewish perspective.
The Story of Hebrew
by Lewis Glinert
In this meticulously researched but highly readable and entertaining work of scholarship by Glinert, the Dartmouth professor tells not just a history of the Jewish language but, indeed, its story. From the opening lines of Genesis to its modern Israeli incarnation, Hebrew has packed more symbolic power than almost any other tongue – inspiring both Jews and Christians.
Stranger in a Strange Land: Searching for Gershom Scholem and Jerusalem
by George Prochnik
Part biography of Gershom Scholem – the 20th-century thinker whose “radical” reading of Kabbalah fueled the modern study of Jewish mysticism – and part memoir of Prochnik’s own search for meaning in modern Jerusalem, this substantial tome is an intricate study of how people of faith struggle to reconcile their beliefs with the real world.
Uggs for Gaza (and other stories)
by Gordon Haber
Whether you find the title intriguing, irksome or inspired, you’ll likely be drawn into this debut short-story collection by Haber, who is known for his nonfiction writing on religion and culture. Funny often in a dark way, Haber’s stories explore Jewish characters finding their way through remarkable situations.
What to Do About the Solomons
by Bethany Ball
In her fiction debut, Ball has formulated a fast-paced, multigenerational, dysfunctional family drama that also bubbles over with humor and intrigue. With beautiful language and sordid details, the narrative bounces between Israel, New York, Southern California and beyond, with plenty of gossip gone wrong and dark secrets in between.
Wherever You Go, There They Are: Stories About My Family You Might Relate To
by Annabelle Gurwitch
This collection of essays from the actress and New York Times best-selling author provides ample comic relief and reflection as the rest of us gather ’round the seder table with our own “mishpocha.” Gurwitch’s clever and provocative prose should hit anyone’s funny bone – while her social commentary, on topics such as Hollywood culture, and poignant exploration of shared traditions touches a deeper chord.