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Votes
1
“Alexandrian Summer,” by Yitzhak Gormezano Goren
Courtesy
In the late 1970s, when Yitzhak Gormezano Goren was working on “Alexandrian Summer,” his first novel, he was young and daring enough to omit allusions to the Holocaust, Palestine and the kibbutz – themes that suffused the novels of great Israeli writers including A. B. Yehoshua, Amos Oz and Aharon Appelfeld. He did not refuse to engage with these prevailing literary motifs or “Zionist questions,” as he has recently called them; he simply chose to write about the world in which he spent the first 10 years of his life – the opulent and glamorous Egyptian city of Alexandria.

Read the review: http://htz.li/349
Votes
2
“All Who Go Do Not Return,” by Shulem Deen
Archive
The story of Shulem Deen, author of the new memoir “All Who Go Do Not Return,” is exactly the kind of thing the rally’s organizers feared. A former Hasidic Jew, Deen lost his faith through a years-long process of increasingly questioning his belief system, with radio, television and the Internet playing a starring role in the process. Today, the 40-year-old founder and editor of the Unpious website — a “platform for voices and views generally suppressed within Hasidic and ultra-Orthodox publications” — lives in Brooklyn, estranged from his ex-wife, children and former community, a Hasidic rebel adjusting to a once-alien world.

Read more: http://htz.li/29C
Votes
3
“Underground in Berlin,” by Marie Jalowicz Simon
Getty Images
The memoir of the late Marie Jalowicz Simon recounts the remarkable tale of a Berlin native whose street smarts and charm kept her alive during World War II.

Read the full review: http://htz.li/3hY
Votes
4
“The Seven Good Years: A Memoir,” by Etgar Keret
Tali Shani
To read the work of Etgar Keret is to love a world only he can see, a universe askew: A girl spends her childhood sitting on top of a refrigerator; a husband comes home to find his wife glued to the ceiling; a human couple gives birth to a horse; a woman discovers a zipper under her lover’s tongue, and when she pulls it, a whole other man pops out – a fellow named Jurgen who has “a goatee, meticulously shaped sideburns and an uncircumcised penis.”

That last story, “Unzipping,” appears in Keret’s 2010 story collection, “Suddenly A Knock On the Door.” (The English-language translation came out in 2012.) With a universal hook like that, no wonder his is the first book by an Israeli writer to be translated into Vietnamese.

Read the full review: http://htz.li/2xU
Votes
5
“One Night, Markovitch,” by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen
Dreamstime
Penning a novel in the 21st century about Israel’s early history is perhaps a surprising undertaking for a budding author; the period of the state’s establishment is steeped in contradictions that are further complicated by a modern-day perspective. But Ayelet Gundar-Goshen’s debut novel, “One Night, Markovitch,” broaches the subject with imagination and wit. Set largely in pre-state Israel on the eve of World War II, it has drama, sex, betrayal and humor – everything necessary to captivate a contemporary audience.

Most of all, “One Night, Markovitch” is a dizzying assault on the senses. The world it describes, a Promised Land redolent of overripe fruit and lust, is sickly sweet, inhabited by characters that veer maniacally between excess and denial, and stumble drunkenly from hope to despair. The novel is both intimate and epic in its proportions.

Read more: http://htz.li/1Cw
Votes
6
"The Last Flight of Poxl West,” by Daniel Torday
Dreamstime
Daniel Torday’s debut novel is a tour de force — a meta-fiction that encompasses World War II, Holocaust history, the veracity of memory and a nuanced consideration of truth and fact in memoir.

The novel opens in 1986 and is narrated by 15-year-old Eli, the surrogate nephew of the titular Poxl West. West is a Czech Jewish refugee who flew bombing missions over Germany as a pilot in the Royal Air Force during World War II.

Read the full review: http://htz.li/24T
Votes
7
“Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide,” by Michael Oren
Bloomberg
As Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren was a conciliator. During his years in Washington – 2009 to 2013 – relations between Israel and the U.S. were as bad as they had been in years, lurching from crisis to crisis. Still, Oren shuttled from Capitol Hill office to cable studio to synagogue sanctuary, insisting that the friendship between the two nations was, for each, an inexorable first principle.

Which is why his new memoir of these years, "Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide," is so startling. In it, as in the multiple articles he penned that preceded the book’s publication, Oren argues that the “special relationship” between Israel and America that has thrived since Israel was established in 1948 has been undone by Barack Obama.

Read the full review: http://htz.li/2Qo
Votes
8
“Single Jewish Male Seeking Soul Mate” by Letty Cottin Pogrebin
Shachaf Manapov
As I know very well from my own quarter century as an author, a writer toils away at a book for years, without any certainty about the condition of the world into which that book will be released. Yet the context inevitably affects how the work will be read and received. Coming out amid this season of deep estrangement between Israeli and American Jews, Letty Cottin Pogrebin’s fine new novel, “Single Jewish Male Seeking Soul Mate,” takes on added levels of relevance and poignancy.

Pogrebin, of course, is a veteran of the ideological and religious struggles that have variously united and divided the globe’s two largest populations of Jews. She wrote the definitive book on Jewish feminism, “Deborah, Golda, and Me,” and served as the chair of Americans for Peace Now. Clearly, she knows when she is picking a fight and against whom.

Read the full review: http://htz.li/2V1
Votes
9
“The Vilna Vegetarian Cookbook: Garden-Fresh Recipes Rediscovered and Adapted for Today’s Kitchen,” by Fania Lewando
Schocken Books/Random House
Decades before vegetarianism became trendy, Fania Lewando cooked up a non-meat storm in her restaurant, attracting such diners as Marc Chagall. The Yiddish cookbook she wrote nearly vanished. Now it can be read in English.

Read more: http://htz.li/2uY
Votes
10
“Lives in Common: Arabs and Jews in Jerusalem, Jaffa and Hebron,” by Menachem Klein
Zoltan Kluger /GPO
The Six-Day War ended on June 10, 1967. Mughrabi was levelled the next day to make way for an open plaza. The inhabitants, writes Menachem Klein in his important new book, “Lives in Common: Arabs and Jews in Jerusalem, Jaffa and Hebron,” were forced out even as their houses were demolished around them. The expulsion was so rapid that they were not even given time to pack up their belongings before being relocated to empty apartments elsewhere in the newly conquered city.

The Israelis, writes Klein, carried out their task with “mystical fervor.” “The members of the demolition crew believed themselves to be the emissaries of the Jewish people charged with ‘purging’ the site and demonstrating Israeli sovereignty.” This process, and the accompanying fervor, continues to this day in Jerusalem, and not just in the Old City.

Read the full review: http://htz.li/1LP

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