BOOKed: Four Titles to Whet Your Appetite for Jewish Book Month


November is traditionally Jewish Book Month, a time of festivals and lots of book talk. In the region, the most touted book fair is the Bank of America Festival of Arts, Books and Culture held at the Katz JCC in Cherry Hill, N.J. This year’s lineup includes Carrie Fisher (Wishful Drinking), Delia Ephron (The Lion Is In) and Stuart Eizenstat (The Future of the Jews), to mention only a few of the notable authors and speakers set to appear. The event runs from Nov. 11-18. For more information, go to

November was most likely chosen for such festivities in anticipation of Chanu­kah and the desire of many to find interesting intellectual gifts to satisfy eight nights of friends and family. No need to look too far this year, for the bookstores — whether they be made of bricks and mortar or exist along the Internet highway — are filled with interesting titles that will appeal to any number of tastes. To help get you started on your shopping expeditions, here are a few brief reviews of some of the hottest volumes around, in categories fictional and non. The list will be added to over the coming weeks and months.


What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank by Nathan Englander
(224 pages, Knopf)

This is Nathan Englander’s third book and second collection of stories, following his widely praised 1999 debut For the Relief of Unbearable Urges. Many critics have considered this gathering of stories a return to the form the writer likes best and say that each of the tales reach a very high artistic level. The book has gotten a significant boost in this area since it’s been chosen as the "One Book One Jewish Philadelphia" title for the year. Lots of events are scheduled throughout the Philadelphia region to increase the pleasure Philly readers will take from this provocative volume.



The Book of Job by Harold Kushner.
(224; Schocken)

From the man who brought us When Bad Things Happen to Good People, here is a study of the original tale of a good man plagued by terrible occurrences. The biblical Book of Job has always been cited as one of the most problematic in all religious literature. Why would a caring God inflict a good person with so much tsuris? In essence, why is there suffering in the world? As he has shown in the past, Kushner is a masterful guide to the difficult existential problems that simple living throws in all of our paths. The book may be brief, but it is filled with insight and illumination.



One Last Thing Before I Go by Jonathan Tropper
(336 pages; Dutton)

After this novel was greeted with a large profile of its author by the Forward newspaper, Tropper may be the hottest Jewish writer around — even hotter than Englander, who’s definitely one of the critics’ darlings. That's not to say that Tropper doesn’t deserve all the attention. He’s been plying his trade for a while now and hasn’t gotten the kind of review space that Englander was allotted from the moment he entered the literary arena. This is Tropper’s sixth novel, following right on the heels of his well-received fifth, This Is Where I Leave You. Tropper’s also a screenwriter and has co-created the upcoming and highly anticipated TV show "Banshee." It’s time to catch up with him if you haven’t already, and One Last Thing Before I Go, the tale of a family trying to glue itself back together, is as good a place to start as any. Then just think — you’ve got five more Tropper’s to investigate.


The Fallen Angel by Daniel Silva
(416 pages; Harper)

Those who love a good thriller have likely made the acquaintance of Daniel Silva long ago. When his most recent book begins, former Israeli intelligence agent Gabriel Allon, who also happens to be in the business of art restoration, is in the Vatican working on a famous work by Caravaggio. But it happens that one of the curators at the Vatican, Dr. Claudia Andreatti, has fallen to her death in St. Peter’s Basilica. The pope’s private secretary, Monsignor Luigi Donati, wants to know if the death was an accident, a suicide or a murder. He suspects the latter and so taps Allon to help him find the answer before it all leaks out to the public.






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