My Mother's Son: A Novel David Hirshberg
Review by Renita Last for Jewish Book Council
My Mother’s Son is a moving coming-of-age story spiced with dark family secrets, historical references, dirty politics, and poignant immigrants’ tales that beautifully evoke life in 1950s Boston.
Now a successful radio raconteur, Joel reminisces about his childhood and the years beyond. “When you’re a kid,” he laments, “they don’t always tell you the truth.” This is the account of how the thoughtful, clever, and open narrator finds and unfolds the truths that were woven into the lies, exaggerations, and family lore he’s been told.
In World War II-Era North Carolina, A Haven for German Jewish Artists and Academics
By Charles Darwent for Jewish Book Council
Interviewed in 1967, Josef Albers, nearing eighty, was asked why he had spent nearly two decades at a small liberal arts school in North Carolina, having previously been a Meister at the Bauhaus (and would later become head of the design department at Yale). After a measured pause, Albers replied, “My gratitude to Black Mountain, [that] they had saved us from the Nazis.” His wife, Anni, added quietly, “In fact, we had to leave because of my background.” On both counts, they were not alone.
Inspired by Sydney Taylor’s One-of-a-Kind Book
By Gloria Goldreich for Hadassah Magazine
All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah By Emily Jenkins. Illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky.
All of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah is a one-of-a-kind book, capturing all the delights of Sydney Taylor’s classic story of five spirited sisters, “all girls—all of a kind.” In Jenkin’s new adaptation, it is 1912 and the family is preparing to celebrate the Festival of Lights in their tenement apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The neighborhood throbs with excitement.
Bellow, His Biographers, and the “Quivering Schmucks”
By David Mikics for Jewish Review of Books
Saul Bellow’s books, admitted his admirer Barney Singer, attract “an awful lot of nuts, a lot of quivering schmucks. . . . But I think I took the cake.” Singer, a young historian at the University of British Columbia, said he read Herzog at least a thousand times during the 1970s. He wrote Bellow hundreds of letters, often containing freewheeling accounts of his own love life (“all of a sudden, broad-wise, it doesn’t rain but it pours”). About twice a year Bellow would send Singer a brief note or a few lines on a postcard. One of his letters read, “No wonder you like Herzog—you resemble him, being always after yourself, a kind of self-persecution. Objectively, that’s funny. Sub., not.”