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November 07, 1986 - Image 33

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-11-07

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Checking in books are volunteers Rose Roland, Selma Bernbauin, Eleanor Weinstein and Gertrude Lahr, and Cultural Arts department assistant Esther Tuchklaper.

the festivities. Admission is free to
most sessions, with seating on a
first-come, first-serve basis. Oral
lip-reading and sign-language inter-
preters, along with the Infrared
Sound System (earphones which can
be worn to shut out extraneous
sound), will be provided for the
hearing-impaired during some pre-
sentations.
For the kids, special children's
programs are on tap, along with the
most extensive number of children's
books to date.
Kicking off the event, Potok is
scheduled to talk about his latest
book, Tobiasse: Artist in Exile, on
Saturday at 8 p.m. French-born ar-
tist Tobiasse, who now lives in Is-
rael, will be on hand, along with
Potok, for an autographing session
following the presentation. This will
mark a return engagement for
Potok, who spoke with fairgoers last
year on his popular novel, Davita's
Harp.
Scheduled for appearances later
in the week are political analyst
Will, who'll discuss his recent collec-
tion of essays The Morning After
many of which focus on the situation
in the Middle East; Belva Plain,
who'll speak on her latest novel, The
Golden Cup, a continuation of the

saga which began with her bestsel-
ler, Evergreen; and Sen. William
Cohen (R-Maine), who'll talk about
his recently-written completed book
of poetry, A Baker's Nickel.
More than a dozen other writers
are slated to speak.
Last year, some 35,000 people
attended the fair, according to Book
Fair Director, Sue Rose.
"Our fair is the oldest and
largest Jewish book fair in the coun-
try," says Silver, who has helped to
co-ordinate the event for the past ten
years. Although speakers receive no
honorarium, the fair can still offer
authors and speakers of the highest
caliber, says Silver, "because of the
prestige."
"The Center provides the hous-
ing, helps to organize the event, and
sends out publicity," says Silver.
"But I'd like to stress that, without
volunteers, the fair could not possi-
bly take place.
"Throughout the year, about 20
of our volunteers work to put it to-
gether, and the week of the fair, al-
most 200 people are involved," she
says.
"All year long, we read news-
papers, reviews, Publishers Weekly,
looking for books of interest. We

look in all directions. Somebody may
just come into the Center and
suggest a book . we could use. Ini-
tially, the only criteria are that the
book must be of Jewish content and
must have been published in the 12
months immediately preceding the
fair. The author need not be Jewish.
If something sounds interest-
ing, we'll usually write the publisher
for a review copy. We have volun-
teers who come in, check the books
off the shelves in. my office, and give
us a review."
In the week before the fair
opens, volunteers help move the
thousands of selected books from
storage areas at the Center,
categorize and arrange the book dis-
plays, and perform many of the mis-
cellaneous tasks necessary to set the
scene for a successful, smooth-
running event. Those who will work
as booksellers are familiarized with
the specific books they'll be selling
through brief seminars, conducted by
other volunteers shortly before the
fair opens.
"This is probably, for this (area),
the only time when all these Judaica
books are together," says Silver, add-
ing that more than 10 publishers
will be represented. "In effect, what
we do is set up a bookstore here at

the Center for one week."
This spring, searching for just
the right speakers for the upcoming
fair, Silver and Rose travelled to the
National Booksellers Convention in
New Orleans, where they conferred
with publishers, examined new
books, and talked with publicists.
They came home with what
Rose describes as a "shopping list of
40-50 potential speakers' names.
("Publicity people are usually very
honest with you about which writers
are not particularly good speakers,"
she says.) From that list, an organiz-
ing committee selected and attained
23 speakers for this year's event.
"This year, there are 67 local
Jewish organizations serving as co-
sponsors," says Silver. Each sponsor
takes care of travel expenses and ac-
commodations for the invited speak-
ers, and sees to it that the author —
often in the midst of a grueling,
nationwide book tour — is made as
comfortable as possible while in
town.
Last year, according to Silver,
proceeds — all of which go toward
financing the next year's fair —
neared the $70,000 mark.
For information on the Book
Fair, call the Center, 661-1000. Fi

35

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