THE MARRYING OF CHANI KAUFMAN by Eve Harris

IN MARRYING OF CHANI KAUFMAN, Eve Harris discloses the secrets of a Chasidic community in Golders Green, London, focusing on the tribulations of three families: the Kaufmans, Levys, and Zilbermans. The Kaufmans have eight daughters, one of whom, nineteen-year-old Chani, is seeking an intelligent, animated, and good-natured husband. The Levys, a well-to-do couple, want only the best for their son, Baruch, and plan to settle for nothing less. The Zilbermans are facing a major crisis. Rabbi Zilberman’s wife, Rivka, is no longer a contented spouse, mother, and homemaker; she is restless, edgy, and depressed. Adding to the tension is the fact that one of her sons, Avromi, a university student, is acting strangely. He is secretive, stays out late, and avoids telling his family where he has been.

April 7, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Family Matters, Man Booker Nominee, United Kingdom, World Lit

BEFORE THE END, AFTER THE BEGINNING by Dagoberto Gilb

Dagoberto Gilb’s latest book, BEFORE THE END, AFTER THE BEGINNING, although a slight collection, is loaded with insight and humor. It’s a book about identity, about the tension between limiting factors outside our control– our race, our class, our gender – and our complexity as individuals.

November 9, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Class - Race - Gender, Humorous, Latin American/Caribbean, Mexico, Short Stories, Texas, y Award Winning Author

THE GREAT LEADER by Jim Harrison

Once, many years ago when I was living in Northern Michigan, Jim Harrison walked into the restaurant where I was dining. He didn’t so much walk in, in retrospect, as lumber in. It was the Blue Bird Cafe and I confess that I’d been hanging out there in the hopes of catching a glimpse of him.

October 30, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Literary, Mystery/Suspense, US Midwest

ADIOS, HAPPY HOMELAND by Ana Menendez

I have seldom read such an extraordinary collection of stories, fascinating in their sheer inventiveness, subtly interlinked so that their images reflect and coruscate. It is not entirely right to speak of stories either. Roughly half the two dozen pieces in this collection might be called stories in the normal sense, though some are no more than brief surreal hallucinations. The rest include several poems, two sets of dictionary entries, a letter and the reply to it, a news report, and a brief history of poetry in Cuba. All the pieces are ostensibly by different authors, collected by an expatriate Irishman who introduces himself in the preface and concludes with brief biographies of all the writers involved. All of course are fictional, even the author herself: “Ana Menéndez is the pseudonym of an imaginary writer and translator, invented, if not to lend coherence to this collection, at least to offer it the pretense of contemporary relevance.”

August 18, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: 2011 Favorites, Cuba, Short Stories, Unique Narrative, World Lit

THE BLINDNESS OF THE HEART by Julia Franck

In the original German version, so I’ve been told, the title of this book is Die Mittagsfrau, or “The Noonday Witch.” According to legend, the witch appears in the heat of day to spirit away children from their distracted parents. Those who are able to engage the witch in a short conversation find that her witch-like powers evaporate.

In Julia Franck’s brilliant English version (translated by the very talented Anthea Bell), Helene gradually retreats into silence and passivity, losing her ability to communicate effectively. We meet her in the book’s prologue as the mother of an eight-year-old boy, leading her son towards a packed train in the direction of Berlin. Before the train arrives she tells him a white lie, abandoning him at a bench, never to return. In the succeeding 400 pages, the reader gains a glimpse as to what drove Helene to this most unnatural act.

October 22, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Germany, Translated, World Lit