All Things Bookish

As an English professor, I’ve written books and many academic articles about contemporary literature. As someone committed to writing beyond the academy, I’ve also written reviews and essays for such publications as Tablet, Lilith, the Jewish Women’s Archive Blog, the Washington Independent Review of Books, and Ms. Magazine Blog. For these venues, I’ve written about biographies, memoirs, and other non-fiction forms as well as poetry collections and novels.

The American Way: A True Story of Nazi Escape, Superman, and Marilyn Monroe

Toward the end of The American Way, Jules Schulback, a “proud Berliner” despite his narrow escape from Nazi Germany, accepts an award for his lifetime of community work and gives a speech about the connective power of stories: “If you dug down deep enough, your story was intertwined with every other person’s story.” That line is not only the genuinely held belief of Jules but also the method of this work of creative nonfiction by Helene Stapinski and Jules’ granddaughter, Bonnie Siegler. Read more

Danya Ruttenberg’s On Repentance and Repair

On Repentance and Repair is equal parts justified outrage, astute analysis, and profound hope. Ruttenberg’s faith in the work of repentance is matched by her belief that “if someone causes harm that is irreparable, there is no obligation to forgive.” Reading this book during the Days of Awe is, perhaps paradoxically, a reminder that the work of Yom Kippur needs to be done 365 days a year and not by Jews only. Read more

Unbidden, copious tears were my initial response to the news of Philip Roth’s death. That visceral response of grief surprised me. Read more

This elegantly written and well-researched book recovers the Jewishness that has too often been erased or glossed over in the mythologizing of a gay icon. Read more

The timeliness of Lipstadt’s nuanced and accessible discussion of contemporary antisemitism cannot be overstated. Read more

Pogrebin wanders across denominational spaces to deepen her understanding of Jewish time. This book, which originated in a series for the Forward, is part memoir, part Jewish holiday primer. Read more

Philip Roth’s The Human Stain brilliantly depicts the continuing effects of “so arbitrary a designation as race” on those who choose or are assigned the off-whiteness of Jewishness. Read more

Dreifus uses Jewish textual traditions to champion the diversity of Jewish women’s lives and to value those who, by choice or circumstance, are not wives and mothers. Read more

There are those thinkers who are ghostly presences that hover over a career, who with a light touch there and a flicker here make that very career possible. For me—English professor, feminist, Jew—Adrienne Rich is one of those thinkers. Read more

a “historical novel in verse” that inspires cultural memory and teshuva. Read more

Mirvis shifts genres, reveals some of the autobiographical germs of her fiction, and compellingly chronicles the process of separating from Orthodoxy. Read more

At this meeting of 2nd and Park avenues, two women discover that their wrestling with one another and their own desires is an assimilation story for both of them. Read more

This immigration tale, based on a true story, overlaps with one of the central themes of Pesach: that having been strangers ourselves, we are ethically obligated to remember the stranger and to teach the next generation that sacred lesson. Read more

focuses our attention on the shifting representation of women in Israeli cinema post-1990. Read more