Returning is a haunting and compelling exploration of the choices we make in a choiceless time, the terrifying strength and burden of the will to survive, and the power of the human spirit to transcend even its own destruction. This book will leave you changed forever.
A good story is a “constructed reality,” and this is no less true of non-fiction than of fiction. Getting this constructed reality from your head into the heads of your readers requires more than just a command of words. Two tools for conveying a sense of reality are structure and pacing. Structure works on the macro level of story, while pacing works on the micro level. Both together serve to carry the reader smoothly through the story like a whitewater rafter who has lost his paddle, and must trust you to get him safely through the rough bits.
Returning will be published on 4 September of this year, which corresponds to the 24th of Elul. A Tuesday, neatly dividing the week between between Parashat Ki Tavo, which many see as prophesying the Shoah, and Parashat Nitzavim, which describes the Ingathering of Exiles. And no, it wasn’t planned that way; the timing was pure serendipity.
Returning explores the questions faced by the Jewish Sonderkommando in Birkenau. When does death becomes a moral obligation? What is the nature of responsibility when all choices are taken from us? Can we do T’shuvah for acts committed under coercion? These are the questions that Ovadya still wrestles with decades later.
For some reason, I find it much more enjoyable to promote other people’s books than my own. So it’s my pleasure to announce that By Light of Hidden Candles, by Daniella Levy will be officially released by Kasva Press in trade paperback and Kindle ebook formats on October 16, 2017. My part in this book was mostly the book design, although I helped with book coaching early on in the process. It’s a great read, which I think many readers of this blog will enjoy!
What better time than Springtime to get out into nature with a good book? Go ahead and add a plate of matzah and a glass of wine! Meanwhile, to get you started, here are some recommendations from around the Jewish blogosphere.
In the course of my research for Havruta with a One-Eyed Cat, I’ll be reading a variety of books on topics ranging from Talmud to mathematical logic. Here are some musings on this week’s book: Devora Steinmetz’s Freedom & Punishment, a veritable treasure of Halakhic insight.
The Jewish Book Blog Carnival is a monthly event where bloggers who blog about Jewish books can meet, read and comment on each others’ posts. This month’s round-up includes memoirs, spy stories, and memoirs that are also spy stories, in addition to some old favorites and new discoveries.
Tisha b’Av is an intentionally triggered “national flashback”. Any survivor will tell you that the anniversary of a traumatic event is the time when one is most likely to relive it. Rather than trying to “get over it”, we allow ourselves to acknowledge the loss. We acknowledge that there are some things that we should not just “get over”.
In God and Politics in Esther, Yoram Hazony draws political lesson from the Book of Esther, some of which are harrowingly relevant to the increasingly polarized American political landscape, and to other nations facing the politics of pessimism.