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Book Club Selections

Alina Adams: The Nesting Dolls

(Fiction, 384 p. 2020) The stories of five generations of Soviet Jewish women come to light as a Brighton Beach family prepares to celebrate an anniversary. This ambitious family saga invites us to consider the personal and emotional stakes of political choices. Discussion Questions from HarperCollins Review from Kirkus Reviews…...

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S. Y. Agnon: A Simple Story

(Fiction, 246 pp. Hebrew, 1935; English translation, 1985) By no means simple, this quasi-love story and portrait of bourgeois life by the only Nobel laureate to write in Hebrew renders with deft, comic touches the microcosmic inner workings of a small town in Ukraine at the turn of the 20th…...

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S. Y. Agnon: To This Day

(Fiction, 177 pp. Hebrew, 1952; English translation, 2008) This comic tale of a Galician Jew who has lived in Palestine, returns to Europe on the eve of WWI and gets stranded in Berlin evolves into a profound commentary on exile, Zionism, divine providence, and human egoism.   Review by Tsipi Keller,…...

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Naomi Alderman: Disobedience

(Fiction, 240 pp. 2006) Ronit, a thirty-something single lawyer living in Manhattan, reluctantly returns to London after the death of her estranged father, a prominent rabbi, where she must face the small, tight-knit Orthodox community she fled many years ago Discussion Questions from Simon and Schuster.com Review by Lisa Gee,…...

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Molly Antopol: The UnAmericans

(Short Stories, 288 pp. 2014) Spanning “the entire Ashkenazi Jewish universe, from New York to Belarus to Israel and Los Angeles,” Molly Antopol’s debut collection explores the link between individual choices and the larger forces of human history, deftly depicting the everyday anxieties of immigrant lives and the intimate links…...

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Aharon Appelfeld: Blooms of Darkness

(Fiction, 279 pp. Hebrew, 2006; English Translation, 2010) When the Nazis begin to liquidate the Ukrainian ghetto, a mother leaves her11-year-old son with her best friend Mariana, a prostitute. Confined to Mariana’s room by day and locked in her closet by night, the boy clings to family memories while witnessing…...

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Jami Attenberg: The Middlesteins

(Fiction, 288 pp. 2012) After thirty years of marriage in the suburbs of Chicago, Richard Middlestein leaves his wife, Edie, as she awaits surgery to address complications of her excessive eating. It is up to their adult children to attend to the crisis, but nobody is up to the challenge.…...

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Ronald Balson: The Girl from Berlin

(Fiction, 352 p. 2019) Dragged into an Italian property dispute, a couple uncover a handwritten memoir by Ada Baumgarten, a young Jewish violin prodigy in Berlin between the wars. Alternating between present and past, the novel involves mur­der, decep­tion, and greed as it offers the beau­ty of music and love,…...

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Giorgio Bassani: The Garden of the Finzi-Continis

(Fiction, 200 pp. Italian, 1962, English translations, 1965, 2007, 2011) The classic novel, adapted into an award-winning film by Vittorio De Sica, chronicles the relationships between the young middle-class narrator and the children of a wealthy, assimilated family in the provincial city of Ferrara. The events take place on the eve of…...

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Rachel Beanland: Florence Adler Swims Forever

(Fiction, 320 p. 2020) In 1934 Florence Adler, while attempting her ambitious goal of becoming the first Jewish woman to swim the English Channel, drowns off the coast of Atlantic City. Shifting among seven different third-person perspectives, the darkly comic novel explores the aftermath of the tragedy as experienced by…...

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