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Our Rack: Némirovsky Bio, Translated Hebrew Fiction, Advice With Lox

By Elissa Strauss

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• The newly translated “The Life of Irène Némirovsky: 1903-1942,” (Knopf) by French writers Olivier Philipponnat and Patrick Lienhardt, tells the life story of the author of the posthumous bestseller “Suite Francaise.” The biography covers Némirovsky’s childhood in Russia, her adulthood in her adopted country of France, and her death at Auschwitz. Philipponnat and Lienhardt focus much of their attention on her personal relationships with her family, as well as her development as a writer.

• After Wall Street Journal reporter Katherine Rosman’s mother died, she decided to use her reporting skills to try to better understand the person she had lost. The result is “If You Knew Suzy: A Mother, a Daughter, a Reporter’s Notebook” (Harper), for which Rosman went on a cross-country trip to cull stories from her mother’s friends and acquaintances. The book is at once an honest and funny inquiry into her mother’s life, and an exploration of the bigger questions of life and death.

“Shifting Sands: Jewish Women Confront the Israeli Occupation” (Whole World Press) features essays from 14 Jewish writers — all of whom are deeply troubled by Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. The book also features a preface by Haaretz columnist Amira Hass and a foreword by anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan; it also contains maps and a timeline — revealing the contributors’ distinctly left-wing perspective on the conflict.

• In “Life, Love, Lox: Real-World Advice for the Modern Jewish Girl” (Running Press), Carin Davis gives the type of advice Carrie Bradshaw might give — but with a Jewish twist. A singles columnist for The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, Davis dispenses advice on everything from how to tame your “Jewfro,” to what to bring to your new boyfriend’s parents house on Shabbat. She offers the Ten Commandments of Jewish Dating, served up with recipes for apricot kugel and challah.


• Rose Edelstein, the protagonist in Aimee Bender’s new novel “The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake” (Doubleday), can taste the emotions of the person who prepared her food. In the novel, Bender carries on her tradition of incorporating surrealist elements into her fiction. This coming-of-age story explores the ways in which we can know, and not know, one another.

• In Marisa Silver’s new short story collection “Alone With You” (Simon & Schuster), her female characters deal with issues such as infidelity, illness and the challenges of motherhood. Silver portrays her characters’ struggles with delicacy and nuance, creating stories that both touch and haunt.

“As Husbands Go,” (Scribner), the latest from novelist Susan Issacs, is a humorous whodunit in which Susie B. Anthony Rabinowitz Gersten —how’s that for a mouthful? — discovers that her Park Avenue plastic surgeon husband has been found dead in the apartment of a second-rate escort. Part satire, part sweet love story, Susie is joined by her grandmother Ethel, who comes from Miami to solve the mystery.

• Translated from Hebrew, Savyon Liebrecht’s “The Women my Father Knew,” (Persea) tells the story of Meir, a popular novelist with writer’s block who is contacted by his father after years of believing he was dead. As Meir begins to mine his memory for clues about his father, he also discovers inspiration for his new book. Liebrecht explores the link between memory, imagination and creation.

• In “Every House Needs a Balcony” (Harper), Israeli writer Rina Frank tells the story of a woman named Rina, who moves to a poverty-stricken Haifa neighborhood in the 1950s; there, she observes life from her balcony. As an adult Rina marries a Spaniard and relocates to Barcelona, but ultimately returns to Israel to raise her child. Frank weaves together the past and present to explore Rina’s identity as well as the identity of the Jewish state.


“If a Tree Falls: A Family’s Quest to Hear and Be Heard, (Feminist Press) is a new memoir by Forward contributor Jennifer Rosner in which she chronicles her daughters’ deafness and her discovery of a history of deafness in her family that she traces back to the shtetl. Rosner contemplates matters of parenting and the challenges of modern deafness, along with a deeper inquiry into communication and understanding one another.

• In “The Council of Dads: My Daughters, My Illness, and the Men Who Could Be Me” (William Morrow), Bruce Feiler, the author of several Jewish-themed non-fiction books, tells the story of his cancer scare and the group of men he assembled to act as father figures to his daughters, should he pass away. Feiler writes about himself as a father, and about his father, grandfather and the six men he chose for the “council” — each chosen for a specific role in his daughters’ lives. He chronicles the challenge of trying to be a good father while battling cancer.

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