Beautiful Country: A Memoir by Qian Julie Wang
This debut memoir by the founder of the Jews of Color group at Central Synagogue captures a childhood in New York City as an undocumented immigrant. Qian Julie Wang’s depiction of her jarring dislocation from China and daily hunger in the US; her alternately painful and supportive relationships with parents, friends, and teachers; and the comfort she finds in books are visceral and deeply moving. It’s a book as beautiful as its title.
A Play for the End for the World by Jai Chakrabarti
At our annual JBC Network conference, I was fascinated to hear Jai Chakrabarti speak about a play he had performed in elementary school in India – and which he later found out had been performed by children in the Warsaw Ghetto in a heroic effort to raise morale. This discovery was the inspiration for A Play for the End of the World, which I can’t wait to read when it comes out this September.
I’m eager to read acclaimed novelist Dara Horn’s new book, People Love Dead Jews: Reports from a Haunted Present, a collection of intentionally provocative essays about antisemitism in which Horn debunks myths as well as revered tropes that actually harm the Jewish people.
Tunnels by Rutu Modan
As a long-time fan of Rutu Modan’s work, I’m eager to dive into her newest graphic novel, Tunnels, which explores contemporary Israeli life through the story of an archeological expedition to uncover the Ark of the Covenant. Layered in meaning, with rich illustrations complementing the textual narrative, Tunnels features a cast of characters that includes a family of archeologists, an antiquities collector, a religious nationalist and his followers, and a Palestinian archeological smuggler, all against the backdrop of Middle Eastern politics.
At Night’s End by Nir Baram, translated by Jessica Cohen
Nir Baram’s At Night’s End hinges on both mystery and emotion to keep readers engaged. In reconstructing days he cannot remember at a literary festival he doesn’t recall attending, writer Yonatan reflects on his dark past with his best friend, who he is convinced is on the verge of death. The plot is intriguing, and the characters’ relationships even more so.
Whistle: A New Gotham City Hero by E. Lockhart, illustrated by Manuel Preitano
Joining the DC universe is sixteen-year-old Willow Zimmerman. Working hard to pay her mother’s medical bills, maintain friendships, and stay active pursuing social justice causes, Willow finds herself drawn into the dark and lucrative underbelly of Down River, her beloved city. Striking illustrations, paired with lush prose have me very excited to read more about this Jewish hero!
Defending Britta Stein by Ronald H. Balson
I am looking forward to reading Defending Britta Stein. Although his works are fiction, Ronald H. Balson helps us take a peak into the past; in this latest novel we learn the history of wartime Denmark.