No image of prerevolutionary Russian Jewish life is more iconic than the fiddler on the roof. But in the half century before 1917, Jewish musicians were actually descending from their shtetl roofs and streaming in dazzling numbers to Russia’s new classical conservatories. At a time of both rising anti-Semitism and burgeoning Jewish nationalism, how and why did Russian music become the gateway to Jewish modernity in music? Drawing on previously unavailable archives, The Most Musical Nation: Jews and Culture in the Late Russian Empire, by James Loeffler, offers an insightful new perspective on the emergence of Russian Jewish culture and identity.
This Thursday, March 24, Loeffler will be reading excerpts from his book at the YIVO Institute Center for Jewish History. The talk will be complemented by musical examples performed by participants from the Sidney Krum Young Artists Concert Series, with a book signing and reception to follow. Admission is free and open to the public.
Baseball season is upon us and Hank Greenberg: The Hero Who Didn’t Want to Be One ,“a wonderful book”, according to the New York Daily News, is the newest addition to YUP’s Jewish Lives series, masterfully written by New York Times bestselling author, Mark Kurlansky.
Matters of personal choice easily become the defining qualities of celebrity scrutiny. When Hammerin’ Hank Greenberg decided not to play in the 1934Yom Kippur game against the Yankees, baseball went into an uproar. American Jews loved him, and many fans were furious. That Greenberg was to be identified with religiosity was peculiar, Kurlansky writes, because Yom Kippur “is a solemn day of fasting and prayer that is so significant in the Jewish religion that it is often observed by secular Jews—so-called Yom Kippur Jews. Greenberg was not even a Yom Kippur Jew. And yet his Jewish observance had become a national issue.”
This becomes the lens through which Kurlansky investigates Greenberg’s life, looking at his character both on and off the field to arrive at a portrait that wholly encompasses the at times conflicting demands of Judaism, athleticism, and heroism. When asked what quality most defined Greenberg as a man, Kurlansky responded: “his humility, without a doubt.”
Tomorrow at the 92nd Street Y, Mark Kurlansky will appear for a talk about Hank Greenberg in conversation with David Margolick. And on April 8, Kurlansky will begin a national twenty-city radio tour. For more news and updates, be sure to follow Hank Greenberg: The Hero Who Didn’t Want to Be One on Facebook.
Tuesday night was the release of the much anticipated sequel to Gayle Forman's IF I STAY. The WHERE SHE WENT launch party was right here in NY, so of course I had to go. :P
There were cupcakes and quarters and curse words. I took a seat next to Elizabeth Eulberg (author of The Lonely Hearts Club and Prom and Prejudice) to eat my cupcake and catch up. Mitali from Alley of Books was also there, as was YA writer Frankie Diane Mallis! Frankie is giving away a signed copy of WHERE SHE WENT on her blog!
Gayle has a rule at home--for every curse word, her kids get a quarter. The signing was no exception. For every kid under 14, Gayle promised a quarter every time they heard the F-bomb in her reading. She owed each of them only one! Go Gayle!
Gayle's first words, before she read the subway scene and the following chapter where Adam becomes "a guy", were "If you fell in love with Adam in IF I STAY, well, I'm sorry."
I won't go into any detail in case you haven't read IF I STAY, because I know you're going to read it because it's great.
Gayle is one of my favorite people. Her books--emotional and raw--are definitely not to be missed.
Had a fabulous and energizing day at the Texas Library Association annual meeting in Austin. First off was the Lone Star Authors Shine panel with fellow Lone Stars James Dashner, Greg Taylor, Jordan Sonnenblick, Melissa Kantor, and Helen Frost.
That’s one of the best parts of this job—rubbing shoulders with awesome authors!
At the Disney-Hyperion booth, The Gray Wolf Throne arcs were a hot commodity. I enjoyed meeting hundreds of Texas librarians and re-acquainting myself with many more.
And then on to the Texas Teens for Literacy events. TLA does a fantastic job of getting teens involved in the conference. You could pick them out from their eye-catching yellow tee shirts. Why didn’t they have events like that when I was a teen?
First, I was on a panel with authors Melissa Kantor and Sophie Jordan.
Then it was on to the Teen Mingle room, where the teens made me feel like a total rock star.
Bravo, Texas! Now on to the Writers’ League of Texas YA A to Z conference.
Tuesday night I hopped on the Harley (on the back--I'm not that cool) and rode into Manhattan with my husband for the release and book signing of DEAD RECKONING, book 11 in the Southern Vampire Mysteries (True Blood) by Charlaine Harris. I will admit, I was a little bit starstruck. Most of the pictures that my husband took, I'm making crazy faces, or squealing like the fangirl that I am. So I'll just share these ones with you.
I took my smaller camera, which takes kind of crappy pictures, because I went on the bike and my big camera is...big.
That is me on the right in the tan sweater.
Charlaine Harris was the author who got me back in to reading. The minute I picked up DEAD UNTIL DARK, I was hooked in the world she'd created, and totally in love with her characters. Because of this, I started writing. I even named my protagonist in my current WIP after Charlaine. Her books are for adults, and I write YA, but I didn't chose
YA. It chose me, I suppose (in fact this is the ONLY adult series I read, ha!). There are so many great YA authors who have inspired me, but when I look back, Charlaine and Sookie were what made me realize I was a writer. My favorite quote from this signing was from Harris: "Writers are born, not made." She didn't mean that you're born a great writer, you do have to write and learn how to write well.
Charlaine answered questions for about thirty minutes and then for the next two hours or so she signed books. She is a signing machine. By the time she got to me, about an hour into signing, her signature was still perfect. During the Q & A fans asked the general questions about her writing process, which now consists of a lot of the business side and not as much writing as she'd like to do, how much coffee she drinks (three cups in the morning), and how she feels about the differences Alan Ball made between the books and the show (she thinks he's fantastic, and she wishes she had thought of Jessica).
The thing I found most interesting was that, despite the fact she'd written mysteries for years before she wrote the first Sookie Stackhouse novel, it took two years for her agent to sell it. Mainly because nobody knew where to put it on a shelf. When she wrote the book, she thought it would be fun to have a mystery series that involved the supernatural, melding mystery and urban fantasy together. Then she thought if she threw in a juicy sex scene for Sookie, she could get the romance readers too. And when the question "Where do we shelve this?" came up, Harris said "everywhere". A logical answer, for sure!
It was an amazing opportunity for me to be able to meet her. Her Sookie novels have inspired me in so many ways. I do believe it is important for writers to read and gather inspiration from "the masters" of literature, especially in your chosen genre, and not only the current super hits (Sookie, Twilight, Harry Potter, etc), but the thing that inspires me most about Charlaine Harris's Sookie novels, is just how much I love them. How immersed in that world I become when I sit down to read. That is what I want to do to readers. That is what is so inspiring. And that is how I knew I was a writer.
Have you had the chance to meet some o