CBE Book Group
January 27: The Zelmenyaners by Moyshe Kulbak
Acclaimed translator Hillel Halkin offers the first English translation of a classic of Yiddish literature,considered one of the great comic novels of the twentieth century.TheZelmenyaners describes the travails of a Jewish family in Minsk that is torn asunder by the new Soviet reality. Four generations are depicted in riveting and often uproarious detail as they face the profound changes brought on by the demands of the Soviet regime and its collectivist, radical secularism.
Giorgio Bassani’s acclaimed novel of unrequited love and the plight of the Italian Jews on the brink of World War II has become a classic of modern Italian literature. Made into an Academy Award—winning film in1970, The Garden of the Finzi—Continis is a richly evocative and nostalgic depiction of prewar Italy. The narrator, a young middle-class Jew in the Italian city of Ferrara, has long been fascinated from afar by the Finzi-Continis, a wealthy and aristocratic Jewish family, and especially by their daughter Micol. But it is not until 1938 that he is invited behind the walls of their lavish estate, as local Jews begin to gather there to avoid the racial laws of the Fascists, and the garden of the Finzi-Continis becomes an idyllic sanctuary in an increasingly brutal world. Years after the war, the narrator returns in memory to his doomed relationship with the lovely Micol, and to the predicament that faced all the Ferrarese Jews, in this unforgettably wrenching portrait of a community about to be destroyed by the world outside the garden walls.
“Slyly comic…Touching and beautifully written.” (Charles McGrath New York Times) “[Aciman's] best so far…. An existentialist adventure worthy of Kerouac.” (Clancy Martin - New York Times Book Review ) A powerful tale of love, friendship, and becoming American in late ’70s Cambridge from the best-selling novelist. André Aciman has been hailed as "the most exciting new fiction writer of the twenty-first century" (New York magazine), a "brilliant chronicler of the disconnect…between who we are and who we wish we might have been" (Wall Street Journal), and a writer of "fiction at its most supremely interesting" (Colm Tóibín). Now, with his third and most ambitious novel, Aciman delivers an elegant and powerful tale of the wages of assimilation—a moving story of an immigrant’s remembered youth and the nearly forgotten costs and sacrifices of becoming an American. It’s the fall of 1977, and amid the lovely, leafy streets of Cambridge a young Harvard graduate student, a Jew from Egypt, longs more than anything to become an assimilated American and a professor of literature. He spends his days in a pleasant blur of seventeenth-century fiction, but when he meets a brash, charismatic Arab cabdriver in a Harvard Square café, everything changes. Nicknamed Kalashnikov—Kalaj for short—for his machine-gun vitriol, the cab driver roars into the student’s life with his denunciations of the American obsession with "all things jumbo andersatz"—Twinkies, monster television sets, all-you-can-eat buffets—and his outrageous declarations on love and the art of seduction. The student finds it hard to resist his new friend’s magnetism, and before long he begins to neglect his studies and live a double life: one in the rarified world of Harvard, the other as an exile with Kalaj on the streets of Cambridge. Together they carouse the bars and cafés around Harvard Square, trade intimate accounts of their love affairs, argue about the American dream, and skinny-dip in Walden Pond. But as final exams loom and Kalaj has his license revoked and is threatened with deportation, the student faces the decision of his life: whether to cling to his dream of New World assimilation or risk it all to defend his Old World friend. Harvard Square is a sexually charged and deeply American novel of identity and aspiration at odds.It is also an unforgettable, moving portrait of an unlikely friendship from one of the finest stylists of our time.
Past Continuous is a brilliant tour de force, a Joycean panorama of the lives of three men, their families, their lovers, and their friends in the quintessentially modern city of Tel Aviv. It is as much a novel about Tel Aviv - its landscape, its idiosyncratic atmosphere, and its history - as it is about the human condition.
May 19: Suddenly, A Knock on the Door by Etgar Keret
Born in Tel Aviv in 1967, Etgar Keret is the author of six bestselling story collections. His writing has been published in Harper’s Magazine, The New York Times, The Paris Review, and Zoetrope. Jellyfish,his first movie as a director along with his wife, Shira Geffen, won the Camera d’ Or prize for best first feature at Cannes in 2007. In 2010 he was named a Chevalier of France’s Order of Arts and Letters. Bringing up a child, lying to the boss, placing an order in a fast-food restaurant: in Etgar Keret’s new collection, daily life is complicated, dangerous, and full of yearning. In his most playful and most mature work yet, the living and the dead, silent children and talking animals, dreams and waking life coexist in an uneasy world. Overflowing with absurdity, humor, sadness, and compassion, the tales in Suddenly, a Knock on the Door establish Etgar Keret—declared a “genius” by The New York Times—as one of the most original writers of his generation.
June 23: City of Angels: or, The Overcoat of Dr. Freud by Christa Wolf
The stunning final novel from East Germany’s most acclaimed writer. Three years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the writer Christa Wolf was granted access to her newly declassified Stasi files. Known for her defiance and outspokenness, Wolf was not especially surprised to discover forty-two volumes of documents produced by the East German secret police. But what was surprising was a thin green folder whose contents told an unfamiliar—and disturbing—story: in the early 1960s, Wolf herself had been an informant for the Communist government.And yet, thirty years on, she had absolutely no recollection of it. Wolf’s extraordinary autobiographical final novel is an account of what it was like to reckon with such a shocking discovery. Based on the year she spent in Los Angeles after these explosive revelations, City of Angels is at once a powerful examination of memory and a surprisingly funny and touching exploration of L.A., a city strikingly different from any Wolf had ever visited. Even as she reflects on the burdens of twentieth-century history, Wolf describes the pleasures of driving a Geo Metro down Wilshire Boulevard and watching episodes of Star Trek late at night. Rich with philosophical insights, personal revelations, and vivid descriptions of a diverse city and its citizens, City of Angels is a profoundly humane and disarmingly honest novel—and a powerful conclusion to a remarkable career in letters.
Please contact email@example.com for additional information