22 fiction, non-fiction titles for fall

22 fiction, non-fiction titles for fall

Gary Shteyngart, Anne Frank’s diary in graphic form, a self-described politically incorrect feminist.... and more

Based on extensive interviews with Ludwig (Lale) Sokolov, the survivor of Auschwitz whose job it was to permanently mark his fellow prisoners with numbers on their arms, Heather Morris’s “The Tattooist of Auschwitz” (Harper) is a novelized version of Sokolov’s experience. He was given the job as tattooist when he arrived at Auschwitz, since he spoke so many languages; he met the woman he would marry when he had to mark her arm. The author lives in Australia, where she met Sokolov. (September)

A fictional memoir, “Returning” by Yael Shahar (Kasva Press) is based on the true story of a young Greek Jew deported to Auschwitz, and how memory is transmitted. (September)

Set on Israel’s coast, “The Parting Gift” (Other Press) by Evan Fallenberg is a tale of male love, jealousy, and Middle Eastern culture told in the form of a letter from the unnamed narrator to an old college friend. (September)

“The Astronaut’s Son” by Tom Seigel (Woodhall Press) features a Jewish scientist and entrepreneur whose father was supposed to have been part of the first moon landing. His dream is to fulfill his father’s dream, and he’s close — but stumbles upon shocking news and a potential murder. (September)

“Lake Success” (Random House) is Gary Shteyngart’s latest, a road trip through America, with a Jewish hedge fund manager who is facing mid-life and fleeing New York on a Greyhound bus. (September)

A historical thriller, “Button Man” by Andrew Gross (Minotaur Books) is the story of an immigrant Jewish family in the 1920s and 30s, and its involvement in the worlds of the garment industry and organized crime. The book is based in part on the author’s family history.  (September)

Set in 1947 New York City, “Not Our Kind” by Kitty Zeldis (Harper) is the story of two women, one Jewish and one gentile, and their complicated encounter when the Jewish woman begins to work as a tutor for the other’s family. (September)

“Deviation” by Luce D’Eramo, translated by Anne Milano Appel (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), is a bestselling autobiographical novel available in English for the first time by the daughter of an Italian fascist under Mussolini who volunteers at a German work camp to disprove what she had been hearing of Nazi atrocities. (September)

“Promised Land: A Novel of Israel” by Martin Fletcher (St. Martin’s) is a story of the State of Israel’s first two decades, told through the lives of two brothers, one a businessman and the other a secret agent. (September)

First published in Hebrew in Israel, “Lone Wolf in Jerusalem” by Ehud Diskin is set in the post-World War II Middle East, following a young Jewish man who goes from fighting in the Resistance against the Nazis to fighting the British. (September)

Nobel laureate Patrick Modiano’s “Sleep of Memory” (Yale University Press) is a mix of recollection, autobiography, and invention, with an older man looking back on his life and loves. (October)


“Kafka’s Last Trial: The Case of a Literary Legacy” by Benjamin Balint (Norton) is in part a biography of Kafka and his close friend Max Brod, who ignores his friend’s dying wish to burn all of his work. The fate of that work is the subject of a court battle. Israeli writer Balint probes the nature of literary genius, questions of ownership of literary work, and the events of the trial. (September)

In “God Is In The Crowd: Twenty-First Century Judaism” (Spiegel & Grau), American entrepreneur, social activist, investor, and former Israeli fighter pilot Tal Keinan applies the theory of Crowd Wisdom to the Jewish community, proposing bold ideas about Jewish identity, change, and survival. (September)

“A Politically Incorrect Feminist: Creating a Movement with Bitches, Lunatics, Dykes, Prodigies, Warriors and Wonder Women” by Phyllis Chesler (St. Martin’s) is a contextual history of Second Wave Feminism by one of its pioneering leaders.

“Passing Human” (Random House) is graphic artist Ilana Finck’s personal memoir drawn by hand in graphic style, about growing up in her family, coming of age, and coming to embrace her own qualities. (September)

“Catch 67: The Left, The Right, and the Legacy of the Six-Day War” (Yale) explores the internal Israeli debate, from both sides, about the long repercussions of that war, by Micah Goodman. (September)

“In Good Faith: Questioning Religion and Atheism” by Scott Shay (Simon & Schuster) is an examination of attitudes toward atheism, including perspectives from Jewish, Christian, and Muslim sources as well as the world of science. (September)

“Turning Points in Jewish History” by Mark J. Rosenstein (Jewish Publication Society) covers the entire span of Jewish history, focusing on formative events and their context.

“Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation,” illustrated by David Polonsky and adapted by Ari Folman (Pantheon), is a visually expressive version of the story, using text from the diary and authorized by the Anne Frank Foundation. Folman is an Israeli director and screenwriter and Polonsky is an Israeli artist; they worked together on “Waltz with Bashir.” (October)

In “Rush: Revolution, Madness & the Visionary Doctor Who Became a Founding Father” (Crown), Stephen Fried details how Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, was connected to Philadelphia’s most prominent Jewish family of the time, attended their ritual events, and wrote letters (which survived) about his impressions.

“Bucharest Diary: Romania’s Journey from Darkness to Light” by Alfred H. Moses (Brookings) is a profile of the city and a memoir by the former U.S. ambassador to Romania in the late 1990s. Moses, who headed the American Jewish Committee before becoming ambassador, was instrumental in helping Jews leave Romania, and also in preserving Jewish heritage there. (September)

“The Cut-Out Girl: A Story of War and Family, Lost and Found” by Bart van Es (Penguin Press) is a true story of Holland during the Shoah and in the years of its long shadow. The author tracks down the Jewish woman who had been hidden by his grandparents — now in her 80s — but he had never met her, as there was a falling out after the war. He recreates his family history, with all its complications, and reckons with Dutch history. (September)

In “The Last Palace: Europe’s Turbulent Century in Five Lives and One Legendary House” (Crown), Norman Eisen, who served as U.S. ambassador to the Czech Republic under President Barack Obama, looks at European history through the story of the Prague mansion that was his official residence. He weaves in his own mother’s story — she was born in a small Czechoslovak village and survived Auschwitz. (September)

Angela Himsel’s memoir, “A River Could Be A Tree” (Fig Tree), follows her spiritual journey, told with candor and literary style, from a childhood in rural Indiana as a fundamentalist Christian to a committed Jewish life on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. With a foreword by Shulem Deen. (October)

“Coming of Age: My Journey to the Eighties” by Madeleine May Kunin (Green Writers Press) is a memoir about aging — with a positive spin — by the first woman to be elected governor of Vermont, who also served as U.S. ambassador to Switzerland. (October)

“The Flame” by Leonard Cohen (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) is the final collection of poems, notebook excerpts, lyrics, and drawings by the great musician and poet, finished just before his death in November 2016. He writes of love, aging, and the hope for transcendence. (October)

“Jerome Robbins: A Life in Dance” by Wendy Lesser (Yale) is a biography marking the centennial of the master choreographer and dancer born Jerome Wilson Rabinowitz in New Jersey, the son of corset factory owners. (October)

“Ruth Bader Ginsburg” by Jane Sherron DeHart (Knopf) is the first full biography of the Supreme Court Justice, covering legal, philosophical, private, and public matters and her Jewish background, written with Ginsburg’s cooperation. (October)

“A Rosenberg By Any Other Name: A History of Jewish Name Changing in America” by Kirsten Fermaglich (NYU Press) is a look at American-Jewish history and identity through the lens of name changing, reflecting themes of immigration, class mobility, anti-Semitism, race, and power. (October)

“The Jewish Paradox” by Robert Mnookin (Public Affairs) addresses questions about the changing Jewish community and notions about Jewish identity by looking at contemporary issues as well as history, law, and Jewish tradition. (November)

Sandee Brawarsky is culture editor of the New York Jewish Week, NJJN’s sister publication.

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