May 23, 2016: "The Hilltop" by Assaf Gavron
Mordantly funny and deeply moving, this award-winning novel about life in a West Bank settlement has been hailed as “brilliant” (The New York Times Book Review) and “The Great Israeli Novel [in which] Gavron stakes his claim to be Israel’s Jonathan Franzen” (Tablet). On a rocky hilltop stands Ma’aleh Hermesh C, a fledgling outpost of Jewish settlers in the West Bank. According to government records it doesn’t exist; according to the military it must be defended. On this contested land, Othniel Assis—under the wary gaze of the Palestinians in the neighboring village—lives on his farm with his ever-expanding family. As Othniel cheerfully manipulates government agencies, more settlers arrive, and a hodge-podge of shipping containers and mobile homes takes root. One steadfast resident is Gabi Kupper, a former kibbutz dweller who savors the delicate routines of life on the settlement. When Gabi’s prodigal brother, Roni, arrives penniless on his doorstep with a bizarre plan to sell the “artisanal” olive oil from the Palestinian village to Tel Aviv yuppies, Gabi worries his life won’t stay quiet for long. Then a nosy American journalist stumbles into Ma’aleh Hermesh C, and Gabi’s worst fears are confirmed. The settlement becomes the focus of an international diplomatic scandal, facing its greatest threat yet. This “indispensable novel” (The Wall Street Journal) skewers the complex, often absurd reality of life in Israel. Grappling with one of the most charged geo-political issues of our time, “Gavron’s story gains a foothold in our hearts and minds and stubbornly refuses to leave” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review).
June 20, 2016: "Honeydew" by Edith Pearlman
A new story collection from the author of Binocular Vision, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and finalist for the National Book Award. Over the past several decades, Edith Pearlman has staked her claim as one of the all-time great practitioners of the short story. Her incomparable vision, consummate skill, and bighearted spirit have earned her consistent comparisons to Anton Chekhov, John Updike, Alice Munro, Grace Paley, and Frank O'Connor. Her latest work, gathered in this stunning collection of twenty new stories, is an occasion for celebration. Pearlman writes with warmth about the predicaments of being human. The title story involves an affair, an illegitimate pregnancy, anorexia, and adolescent drug use, but the true excitement comes from the evocation of the interior lives of young Emily Knapp, who wishes she were a bug, and her inner circle. "The Golden Swan" transports the reader to a cruise ship with lavish buffets-and a surprise stowaway-while the lead story, "Tenderfoot," follows a widowed pedicurist searching for love with a new customer anguishing over his own buried trauma. Whether the characters we encounter are a special child with pentachromatic vision, a group of displaced Somali women adjusting to life in suburban Boston, or a staid professor of Latin unsettled by a random invitation to lecture on the mystery of life and death, Pearlman knows each of them intimately and reveals them to us with unsurpassed generosity. In prose as knowing as it is poetic, Pearlman shines a light on small, devastatingly precise moments to reflect the beauty and grace found in everyday life. Both for its artistry and for the recognizable lives of the characters it renders so exquisitely and compassionately, Honeydew is a collection that will pull readers back time and again. These stories are a crowning achievement for a brilliant career and demonstrate once more that Pearlman is a master of the form whose vision is unfailingly wise and forgiving. "Honeydew should cement [Pearlman's] reputation as one of the most essential short story visionaries of our time."―The New York Times Book Review
"The Post Office Girl" by Stefan Zweig
"The Train to Crystal City" by Jan Jarboe Russell
"An Officer and a Spy" by Robert Harris
"Dora Bruder" by Patrick Modiano
"All the Light We Cannot See" by Anthony Doerr
"Solving the Mystery of a Strange and Dangerous Life" by Tom Reiss
"Ali and Nino" by Kurban Said
"The Moor's Last Sigh" by Salmon Rushdie
"The Assistant" by Bernard Malamud
"Hour of the Star" and "Near to the Wild Heart" by Clarice Lispector
"Little Failure by Gary Shteyngart
"The Aleppo Codex" by Matti Friedman
"There Are Jews in My House" by Lara Vapnyar
"Stranger in My Own Country" by Yascha Mounk
"Jews Without Money" by Michael Gold
"Adjusting Sights" and "The Dawning of the Day: A Jerusalem Tale" by Haim Sabato
"Dissident Gardens" by Jonathan Lethem.
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