Erika Dreifus is the author of Quiet Americans: Stories (Last Light Studio), which is an ALA Sophie Brody Medal Honor Title for outstanding Jewish literature. Quiet Americans was also named a Notable Book (The Jewish Journal) and a Top Small-Press Book (Shelf Unbound). Erika is a contributing editor for Fiction Writers Review and an advisory board member for J Journal: New Writing on Justice, and she wrote the section on “Choosing a Low-Residency MFA Program in Creative Writing” for the second edition of Tom Kealey’s Creative Writing MFA Handbook (Continuum, 2008). Erika is also the editor/publisher of The Practicing Writer, a free (and popular) e-newsletter featuring advice, opportunities, and resources on the craft and business of writing for fictionists, poets, and writers of creative nonfiction.
As the annual observance of Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) approaches, Erika Dreifus discusses the literary kinship among works from an emerging cohort of “3G” (third-generation) Jewish writers: Julie Orringer’s The Invisible Bridge, Alison Pick’s Far to Go, and Natasha Solomons’ Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English.
Jacob Paul’s debut, Sarah/Sara, is not a joyful read, but it is a deeply moving one. The novel unfolds as the journal of Sarah Frankel, an American-born Jew who, shortly after finishing college, moved to Israel, where she took the Hebrew version of her name (“Sara,” pronounced Sah-rah) and became far more ritually observant than she was raised to be. After her visiting parents are killed in a suicide bombing in the café below her Jerusalem apartment, Sara embarks on a six-week, solo kayaking trip through the Arctic. Throughout the beautiful yet dangerous trek, Sarah’s thoughts turn not only to her past—memories—but also to an imagined future, one that challenges her faith.
Chloe Aridjis’s first novel, Book of Clouds (Black Cat, 2009), proves an immensely pleasurable and thought-provoking read. Tatiana, whose father owns the largest Jewish deli in Mexico City, finds herself still living in Berlin long after winning a year there from the Goethe Institute. As a self-professed “professional in lost time,” Tatiana may challenge writer-readers’ assumptions about good characterization. And yet the novel succeeds and keeps us engaged in not only Tatiana, but in the novel’s real main character: the city of Berlin.
In her impressive debut collection, Forgetting English, Midge Raymond sets her stories in a variety of locations outside the continental United States. How many other collections can you think of that contain eight stories spanning four continents: Africa, Asia, Antarctica, and North America (mainly Hawaii)? Alongside personal, human histories, Raymond incorporates larger traditions. Marriage rites. Fertility symbols. The meaning of jade. The natural history of the penguin.