The Passenger ~ Philip Syng Boehm
Hailed as a remarkable literary discovery, a novel of heart-stopping intensity and harrowing absurdity about flight and persecution in 1930s Germany.
Twenty-three year old Ulrich Boschwitz wrote The Passenger at breakneck speed in 1938, fresh in the wake of the Kristallnacht pogroms, and his prose flies at the same pace.
Philip Boehm has now superbly translated‚ The Passenger, a riveting, noirish, intensely filmic portrait of an ambivalent fugitive: a Jew hiding in plain sight during the terrifying days following Kristallnacht; a wealthy Berliner for whom money has become a burden, cornered but not captured, safest when in motion, at greatest risk when forced to rest. The book is urgent, propulsive, often tragicomic, peppered with moments of absurdism and existential speculation, by turns Hitchcockian and Beckettian. It has the immediacy of a novel written in a hurry. But if the original was disordered, this new version is cohesive and beautifully paced.
Philip Syng Boehm
Philip Boehm has translated more than thirty novels and plays by German and Polish writers, including Herta Müller, Franz Kafka, and Hanna Krall. For these translations, he has received numerous awards, including NEA and Guggenheim fellowships and most recently the Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator’s Prize. He also works as a theater director and playwright.
Under the Iron Bridge ~ Kathy Kacer
Desperate to escape joining the Hitler Youth, Paul stumbles across the Edelweiss Pirates, a secret German organization of teenage rebels leading a dangerous campaign of sabotage against the Nazis.
Kathy Kacer’s books have won a number of awards, including the Silver Birch, the Red Maple, and the National Jewish Book Award. A former psychologist, Kathy now travels the globe speaking to children and adults about the importance of keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive. Kathy lives in Toronto with her family
Sunday, November 7 | 7pm
Once we were Slaves ~ Laura Arnold Leibman
An obsessive genealogist and descendent of one of the most prominent Jewish families since the American Revolution, Blanche Moses firmly believed her maternal ancestors were Sephardic grandees. Using family heirlooms to unlock the mystery of Moses's ancestors, Once We Were Slaves overturns the reclusive heiress's assumptions about her family history to reveal that her grandmother and great uncle, Sarah and Isaac Brandon, actually began their lives as poor Christian slaves in Barbados.
Laura Arnold Leibman
Laura Arnold Leibman is a Professor of English and Humanities at Reed College and the winner of a Jordan Schnitzer Book Award and four National Jewish Book Awards. Her work focuses on religion and the daily lives of women and children in early America and uses everyday objects to help bring their stories back to life. She is the author of Indian Converts (U Mass Press, 2008) and Messianism, Secrecy and Mysticism: A New Interpretation of Early American Jewish Life (Vallentine Mitchell, 2012), which won a National Jewish Book Award, a Jordan Schnitzer Book Award from the Association for Jewish Studies, and was selected as one of Choice’s Outstanding Academic Titles for 2013. Known, too, for her scholarship in Digital Humanities, Laura served as the Academic Director for the award winning multimedia public television series American Passages: A Literary Survey (2003).
X-Troop ~ Leah Garrett
The Secret Jewish Commandos of World War II
June 1942. The shadow of the Third Reich has fallen across the European continent. In desperation, Winston Churchill and his chief of staff form an unusual plan: a new commando unit made up of Jewish refugees who have escaped to Britain. The resulting volunteers are a motley group of intellectuals, artists, and athletes, most from Germany and Austria. Many have been interned as enemy aliens, and have lost their whole worlds. They will stop at nothing to defeat the Nazis. Trained in counterintelligence and advanced combat, this top secret unit becomes known as X Troop. Drawing on extensive original research, including interviews with the last surviving members, Garrett follows this unique band of brothers from Germany to England and back, to British internment camps, the beaches of Normandy, the battlefields of Italy and Holland, and the hellscape of Terezin concentration camp‚ the scene of one of the most dramatic rescues of the war. X Troop tells the astonishing story of these secret shock troops and their devastating blows against the Nazis.
Leah Garrett is a professor at Hunter College. Her last book, Young Lions: How Jewish Authors Reinvented the American War Novel, won and was short-listed for several major literary awards. She lives in New York City with her husband and their two daughters.
Golem Girl: A Memoir ~ Riva Lehrer
In 1958, amongst the children born with spina bifida is Riva Lehrer. Her parents and doctors are determined to “fix” her, sending the message over and over again that she is broken, that she will never have a job, a romantic relationship, or an independent life. Enduring countless medical interventions, Riva tries her best to be a good girl and a good patient in the quest to be cured. Everything changes when, as an adult, Riva is invited to join a group of artists, writers, and performers who are building Disability Culture. They insist that disability is an opportunity for creativity and resistance. Emboldened, Riva asks if she can paint their portraits‚ inventing an intimate and collaborative process that will transform the way she sees herself, others, and the world. Each portrait story begins to transform the myths she’s been told her whole life about her body, her sexuality, and other measures of normal. Written with the vivid, cinematic prose of a visual artist and the author’s magnificent portraits featured throughout, Golem Girl is an extraordinary story of tenacity and creativity.
Riva Lehrer is an artist, writer, and curator whose work focuses on issues of physical identity and the socially challenged body. She is best known for representations of people with impairments, and those whose sexuality or gender identity have long been stigmatized. A longtime faculty member of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Riva Lehrer is currently an instructor in medical humanities at Northwestern University
Wednesday, November 10 | 7pm
999 Extraordinary Women ~ Heather Dune Macadam
The Extraordinary Young Women of the First Official Jewish Transport to Auschwitz
From Heather Dune Macadam, the untold story of the 999 young, unmarried Jewish women who were tricked on March 25, 1942 into boarding the train that became the first official transport to Auschwitz. Timed to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and drawing on extensive interviews with survivors, historians, witnesses, and relatives of those first deportees, 999 is an important addition to Holocaust literature and women's history.
Heather Dune Macadam
Heather Dune Macadam is the acclaimed author of 999: The Extraordinary Young Women of the First Official Jewish Transport to Auschwitz, a PEN America Literary Award Finalist, a Goodreads Choice Awards Nominee, and an Amazon Best of the Year Selection. She is also the author of Rena’s Promise: A Story of Sisters in Auschwitz. A board member of the Cities of Peace: Auschwitz and the director and president of the Rena’s Promise Foundation, her work in the battle against Holocaust denial have been recognized by Yad Vashem in the UK and Israel, the USC Shoah Foundation, the National Museum of Jewish History in Bratislava, Slovakia, and the Panstowe Museum of Auschwitz in Oswiecim, Poland. Ms. Macadam has a master’s degree in creative writing and received a Presidential Grant for Research from Savannah College of Art and Design, and a PEN American stipend. She is the Producer and Director of the documentary film, 999: The Extraordinary Young Women of the First Official Jewish Transport to Auschwitz and her work has been featured in National Geographic, on PBS, and other major media outlets.
The Postmistress of Paris ~ Meg Waite Clayton
The New York Times bestselling author of The Last Train to London revisits the dark early days of the German occupation in France in this haunting novel a love story and a tale of high stakes danger and incomparable courage about a young American heiress who helps artists hunted by the Nazis escape from war torn Europe.
Chicago heiress Naneé was born with a spirit of adventure; for her, learning to fly is freedom, as is life in Paris. When German tanks roll in and most Americans flee home, she joins the resistance. Known as the Postmistress because she delivers information to those in hiding, Naneé uses her charms and skill to house the hunted and deliver them to safety.
Inspired by the real heiress, Mary Jayne Gold, who worked with Varian Fry to smuggle artists and intellectuals out of France, Clayton has fashioned a sweeping tale of romance and danger set in a world aflame with personal and political passion in this story of an indomitable woman whose strength, bravery, and love is a beacon of hope in a time of terror.
Meg Waite Clayton
Meg Waite Clayton is the New York Times bestselling author of eight novels, including the forthcoming The Postmistress of Paris and the National Jewish Book Award finalist The Last Train to London (publishing in 20 languages). A graduate of the University of Michigan law school, Meg’s short works have appeared in major newspapers and magazines and on public radio.
The Lost Cafe Schindler ~ Meriel Schindler
One Family, Two Wars, and the Search for Truth
Meriel Schindler's father, Kurt, was a handsome, persuasive, and charming raconteur. Kurt was full of anecdotes about their family's illustrious relations, ranging from Franz Kafka to Oskar Schindler to Dr. Bloch, but Schindler was never sure whether any of these tales were true. When Kurt died sud- denly in 2017, she was forced to confront both their fractured relationship and the truth behind his tall tales. Scattered around the isolated cottage where Kurt lived out his final years, Schindler piles of Nazi era documents related to her family's fate in Innsbruck and a treasure trove of family albums reaching back to pre World War I.
The memoir centers around the famous Café Schindler, which the author's grandfather opened in 1922 to glittering success. Schindler's research leads her to uncover the heart-wrenching story of how her family's business was appropriated during the Nazi era, the post-war legal battle waged by the proprietor who illegally laid claim to it, and the ultimate resurrection of the café in a new owner's hands.
Through the story of the café and the threads that spool out from it, The Lost Café Schindler depicts how an ordinary family survived extraordinary times and offers readers a profound reflection on memory, truth, trauma, and the importance of cake.
Meriel Schindler spent the first fifteen years of her life in London before spending five formative years in Innsbruck, Austria. Schindler, now based in London, is an employment lawyer, partner, and head of a team at Withers LLP, a law firm, and a trustee of Arvon, the writing charity. The Lost Cafè Schindler is her first book.
Monday, November 15 | 7pm
The House of Fragile Things ~ James McAuley
Jewish Art Collectors and the Fall of France
In the dramatic years between 1870 and the end of World War II, a number of prominent French Jews pillars of an embattled community invested their fortunes in France's cultural artifacts, sacrificed their sons to the country's army, and were ultimately rewarded by seeing their collections plundered and their families deported to Nazi concentration camps.
In The House of Fragile Things James McAuley explores the central role of art in the assimilation and identity of French Jews in the fin de siècle. Based on previously unexploited private archives, the book tells the story of an interconnected set of families, some familiar from the novels of Proust and the diaries of the Goncourts: the Camondos, the Rothschilds, the Reinachs, the Cahens d'Anvers. McAuley shows how Jewish art collectors contended with a powerful strain of anti-Semitism between the Dreyfus Affair and the Holocaust: they were often accused of "invading" France's cultural patrimony. The collections these families left behind many ultimately donated to the French state were their response, tragic at tempts to celebrate a nation that later betrayed them.
James McAuley is a European affairs columnist for The Washington Post. He recently completed his doctorate in modern history at the University of Oxford, where he was a Marshall scholar.
RBG's Brave and Brilliant Woman ~ Nadine Epstein
33 Jewish Women to Inspire Everyone
The fascinating lives detailed in this collection more than thirty exemplary female role models were chosen by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, or RBG, as she was lovingly known to her many admirers. Working with her friend, journalist Nadine Ep- stein, RBG selected these trailblazers, all of whom are women and Jewish, who chose not to settle for the rules and beliefs of their time. They did not accept what the world told them they should be. Like RBG, they dreamed big, worked hard, and forged their own paths to become who they de served to be.
Future generations will benefit from each and every one of the courageous actions and triumphs of the women profiled here. Real Wonder Women, the passion project of Justice Ginsburg in the last year of her life, will inspire readers to think about who they want to become and to make it happen, just like RBG.
Nadine Epstein is an award winning journalist and editor-in-chief of Moment Magazine. She is the founder of the Role Model Project, created in memory of Justice Ginsburg to help young people identify and select role models. Epstein lives in Washington, DC.
Ophelia ~ Norman Bacal
Tal Neilson does not believe his father Geri's mysterious death was an accident. Geri's voice in his head is convinced it was perfectly plotted murder.
Geri may have built a drug empire, but he is surrounded by a wife he no longer loves a business partner he cannot trust, and a drug addicted son.
Tal must decide whether he is prepared to fight for his legacy. When Tal turns to his lover, Ophelia, for support, he has no idea that she carries a family secret. A duty to protect Tal, even if it means risking her life.
Born to serve. Trained by the Israeli military to kill. Ophelia.
One stormy night off the coast of Denmark, sixty years earlier, binds two families forever and drives their obsessions.
A modern day Hamlet set in Manhattan, with twists and turns galore, to the very last page.
Norman Bacal is The Globe and Mail best selling author of Breakdown, a memoir of his career as managing partner and builder of a Canadian law firm. He was among the world’s leading entertainment attorneys, representing major studios and was a board member of Lionsgate for almost ten years.
Thursday, November 18 | 7pm
The Papercutter. Book 1 of The Split Series ~ Cindy Rizzo
A deeply polarized and ungovernable United States of America has separated into two nations‚ the God Fearing States (GFS) and the United Progressive Regions (UPR).
Judith Braverman, a teenager living in an Orthodox Jewish community in the GFS, is not only a talented artist accomplished in the ancient craft of papercutting, she also has the gift of seeing into peoples’ souls‚ and can tell instantly if someone is good or evil.
Jeffrey Schwartz has no love for religion or conformity and yearns to escape to the freedom of the UPR. When he’s accepted into an experimental pen pal program and paired with Dani Fine in the UPR, he hopes that he can finally find a way out.
As danger mounts and their alarm grows, Judith embeds a secret code in her papercuts so that she and Jeffrey can tell Dani what’s happening to Jews in the GFS without raising suspicions from the government. When the three arrange a quick, clandestine meeting, Jeffrey is finally faced with the choice to flee or to stay and resist.
Cindy Rizzo is the author of four novels. In 2014, she received the Debut Author award from the Golden Crown Literary Society. Her short stories and essays have appeared in anthologies and online journals. Cindy has a long career is in social jus-tice philanthropy. She lives with her wife in New York City where she is a member of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah.