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June 27, 2013 - Image 52

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2013-06-27

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arts & entertainment

Summer Reading from page 51

of Roman's 13-year-old daughter, Anyusha
— the novel confronts moral questions
surrounding religious extremism and the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In The American Sun & Wind Moving
Picture Company (Texas Tech University
Press) by Jay Neugeboren, the year is
1915; it's the era of silent movies. Jewish
and the New Jersey son of a moviemaker
and an actress, Joey, often considered too
beautiful to be a boy, imagines stories
that later become movie scenes in his
uncle's films. Until the advent of the talk-
ies, Joey is cast in both male and female
roles onscreen and off. However, when the
woman Joey loves murders her abusive
husband, Joey is forced to disguise himself
as the mother of her children and flee,
taking a cross-country trip that, when it
ends on the opposite coast, will change
Jesse and Ramon want a child. As
they learn in The Mothers (Scribner) by
Jennifer Gilmore, it's not always as easy as
it may seem. When the novel opens, Jesse
and Ramon have decided to move away
from attempts at in vitro and instead try
something different: domestic open adop-
tion. The novel details the heartbreaking
experience trying to adopt a child can
be, from scams to rejections, based on
Gilmore's own experiences of trying to
adopt. In portraying the process, the novel
frames the question, "What is a mother?"
Zix Zexy Ztories (Texas Tech University
Press) by Curt Leviant is a collection of
six short stories about love and lust. The
setting changes from the Deep South to
New York to Boston, from Israel to Italy;
the characters range from teenagers to
great-grandfathers, students to teachers,
writers to salesclerks. What makes these
stories riveting is the variety of characters
and how they show what unites us all: a
longing for love. Some of the most memo-
rable characters in the collection include a
non-Jewish Holocaust historian, a Harvard
secretary and a synagogue architect.
In his novelized memoir, Dancing in
the Shadows (CreateSpace), Marvin M.
Cohen tells the story of his Sephardic fam-
ily and how they survived, thrived and
prospered for nearly a millennium. Living
in Brooklyn, Cohen and his family often
were ostracized by other Jews because of
their dark skin and odd customs, such as
believing in the spirit world and speaking
Ladino, a Judeo-Spanish language from
the 15th century, instead of Yiddish. In
his novelization, inspired by stories from
his grandparents, Cohen traces his fam-
ily's history back to third-century Yemen,
when the land was ruled by three Jewish
kings, telling a tale not just of his family's
strife and struggles, but of the often-mis-
understood culture of Sephardic Judaism
as a whole.
In her second novel, The Comfort of
Lies (Atria), Randy Susan Meyers (The
Murderer's Daughters) explores the com-

52 June 27 • 2013


plications of love and the collateral dam-
age of infidelity, as well as the universal
themes of motherhood, identity, trust and
forgiveness. Told in alternating points of
view, the novel reveals the deepest and
darkest secrets of three women all con-
nected to a 5-year-old girl: Tia, the birth
mother; Caroline, the adoptive mother;
and Juliette, the wife of the birth father,
who all find themselves tied together when
Juliette intercepts a letter to her husband,
Nathan, and discovers the daughter he had
with Tia, his former mistress.
The Fifth Assassin (Grand Central
Publishing) is University of Michigan
grad Brad Meltzer's second volume in his
"Culper Ring" spy trilogy. In the history
of the United States, there have been 12
official assassination attempts on the pres-
ident; four have been successful. As archi-
vist Beecher White finds out, there is a
conspiracy linking the four assassinations,
and now a serial killer is meticulously re-
creating the crimes. White must race the
clock to find out the identity of America's
fifth would-be presidential assassin —
before he strikes again and kills the cur-
rent president.
The year is 854, and Rahel, at age 17,
is at a tough spot in her life: Little does
she know she will soon be forced to flee
and leave behind everything she's ever
known. This is the premise of Janice
Weizman's debut novel, The Wayward
Moon (Yotzeret), which tells the story of a
young Jewish girl living in Babylonia dur-
ing the Golden Age of Islam. Preparing to
meet her fiance for the first time, Rahel
is forced to flee when an enemy of her
father's makes his way toward their home.
When she finds herself drawn, against
all convention, to a traveler from the Far
West, she must confront the difference
between what she once was and what she
has become.
The sequel to The Heretic (2000),
Lewis M. Weinstein's new book of his-
torical fiction, The Pope's Conspiracy
(CreateSpace), continues the story of
a Jewish couple, Benjamin and Esther

Catalan, as they leave behind the Spanish
Inquisition to start over in Renaissance
Florence under the patronage of Lorenzo
de Medici, the most powerful man in
Europe. Their future is threatened when
they are caught up in a conspiracy to mur-
der Lorenzo and his brother Giuliano, with
the powerful Pope Sixtus IV at the center
of the conspiracy.
World War I was a demoralizing war for
many. Soldiers in 1917 Russia were aban-
doning their posts in droves, leading one
woman to create an all-female battalion.
Rivka's War (Mill City Press) by Marilyn
Oser tells the story of this battalion
through the eyes of Rivka, a Jewish daugh-
ter of a boot maker. The novel follows
Rivka from a shtetl in Ukraine in 1914
through her experiences on the battlefield
to her arrival in Palestine in the fall of
1918. In her novel, Oser, a recipient of the
University of Michigan's Avery Hopwood
Prize, documents an often misunderstood
period of history and battles the issue of
women in combat.
A graphic novel with illustrations by
Nick Bertozzi, Jerusalem: A Family
Portrait (First Second) by screenwriter
and director Boaz Yakin (A Price Above
Rubies) follows the Halaby family — three
generations of very different people — as
they are swept into the chaos of nation-
making from 1940-1948. Based on stories
told to him by his father, Yakin captures
the spirit of these years — portraying
death, love, faith, family and politics — as
the land now known as Israel faces a con-
stant state of unrest and uncertainty.
In One Hundred Philistine Foreskins
(Counterpoint), Tova Reich (My
Holocaust) has penned a satiric novel
about "Mother Temima," a renowned
Jerusalem teacher sought out by seekers of
all persuasions anxious for her advice and
insight. Moving between Mother Temima's
two worlds — her childhood in Brooklyn
and her adult life in Jerusalem — the
novel, with many allusions to Jewish his-
tory and literature, reveals much about
religious fanaticism and the religious

- g4

viaisw •


Ellen Meister's new novel, Farewell,
Dorothy Parker (Putnam), tells the tale
of movie critic Violet Epps, renowned for
her powerhouse criticism (she has learned
to channel the scathing wit of her literary
hero, Dorothy Parker). Violet's personal
life is a different matter. Struggling with
social anxiety, she visits the Algonquin
Hotel (site of the famed Algonquin
Roundtable of which Parker was part) but
gets more than she bargained for when
Parker's feisty spirit rematerializes from an
ancient guestbook and hitches a ride onto
her life.
In her fourth novel, The Widow Waltz
(Viking Adult), author Sally Koslow, a
former editor in chief at McCall's magazine,
writes a tale of female fortitude and rein-
vention as Georgia Waltz's dream life — a
spouse she adores, their two bright daugh-
ters, a Central Park apartment and home in
the Hamptons — suddenly dissolves when
her husband drops dead, and she discovers
things are not as they appear. Georgia's sud-
den midlife shift forces her to consider who
she is and what she truly values.
Cathleen Schine, author of the bestsell-
ing The Three Weissmanns of Westport,
has written Fin Lady (Sarah Crichton
Books; to be published July 9), about an
11-year-old orphaned boy (Fin) from rural
Connecticut who moves to Greenwich
Village under the care of his six-years-
older half-sister (Lady), smack in the
middle of the swinging '60s. Against the
backdrop of the civil rights movement and
the Vietnam War, he soon learns that he is
as responsible for his free-spirited sister as
she is for him.
Daniel Silva delivers yet another thrill-
er, The English Girl (Harper; to be pub-
lished July 16), once again featuring the
wayward son of Israeli intelligence, Gabriel
Allon. In Corsica, an island off the coast of
Italy, a young and beautiful British woman
disappears. This woman, Madeline Hart,
is a rising star of Britain's governing party,
as well as being the mistress of Prime
Minister Jonathan Lancaster. Allon, who
is living in his retirement in Jerusalem,
is called back to solve the case by British
intelligence. Trying to avoid destroying
Lancaster's career from scandal and pre-
vent Madeline's death at the hands of her
kidnappers, Allon races into a world where
everything is not as it seems, and the truth
may be the most dangerous weapon of all.
Adelle Waldman's debut novel, The
Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. (Henry Holt;
to be released July 16), is a coming-of-age
comedy of manners told from the point of
view of Brooklyn hipster and man of let-
ters Nathaniel Piven, who has his pick of
both magazine assignments and women.
Probing the psyche of 21st-century mod-
ern man, Waldman writes the tale of one
man's search for happiness while revealing
what he really thinks about women, sex
and love.

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