The Arty Semite

David Grossman, Paul Auster and a Night With Minor Stars

By Dan Friedman

  • Print
  • Share Share
Photo by Yossi Zamir.

Last night was the first event at the International Writers’ Festival that felt as if there were really star writers among us. Paul Auster and David Grossman entered the event tent through sides held open to accommodate the 500 people crammed into the tent area, inside and outside the tent walls. With a welcome far outweighing the welcome afforded to the President on the opening night, the two authors made their way to the front.

The panel was moderated by Kobi Medan whose long meandering questions seemed designed to validate his presence on the stage rather than elicit interesting responses. Despite Medan’s poor questions, and the two authors and friends agreeing on many things, there were some interesting questions raised about the nature of literature. Grossman maintained that books were active while Auster praised the “sublime uselessness of books.”

The other topic of some interest came out of Auster’s book about a new American civil war. Using that as a starting point, the writers drew the comparison between the situation in Israel and the increasing lack of political courtesy, agreement or even civility. Auster claimed he’d be happy if the Union broke up and Grossman said that he was “humiliated as a human being to collaborate with such despair” as he finds in Israel.

A discussion between two relatively established but non-controversial authors might not have seemed like a not-to-be-missed event, but there were a sprinkling of minor celebrities there, including, obscurely the beautiful but not famously literate Shifra Kornfeld from Israeli reality TV show Big Brother. But, in the end, what is literature but a reflection on, and break from, reality — or television.

Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: David Grossman, Paul Auster

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Find us on Facebook!
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?

We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.