2020 John Leonard Prize Finalists

January 25, 2021

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It turns out only one of the six books I nominated for the 2020 National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Prize for a first book is a finalist (some years none of my nominees make it to the next round), and that book is Luster by Raven Leilani. This year there are seven finalists for […]

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My 2020 first book nominees

December 29, 2020

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Yesterday as a National Book Critics Circle voting member I submitted my ballot on which I nominated six first books for NBCC’s John Leonard Prize for a First Book. Any book published in 2020 that is its author’s first published book is eligible. This year I read 36 first books of varying genres, but all […]

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Best 2019 debut fiction books (IMHO)

December 3, 2019

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As a voting National Book Critics Circle member I cast my ballot (electronically) last week nominating five 2019 first books for the John Leonard Prize. Any eligible 2019 first book that gets 20% of the member votes will become a finalist. My five include two debut short story collections and three debut novels: The two […]

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Davar Torah on my brother Robert’s yahrzeit

June 28, 2019

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This is a Davar Torah or sermon (click on link) I gave at Park Slope Jewish Center during Shabbat morning services on June 22, 2019, which was my brother Robert’s 26th yahrzeit (death anniversary) on the Jewish calendar. I gave a shorter version of the same talk at AltShul two weeks earlier.

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Travelogues by Poets

June 16, 2019

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The Diaries of Lea Goldberg translated by Tsipi Keller. The Hebrew poet’s travelogue of her 1937 trip to Italy If you like travel blogs by poets try this one by National Poetry Series winner Karen Swenson.

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Brief review: The Rabbi of Lud by Stanley Elkin

April 17, 2019

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I’m taking a break from reading and reviewing new books to catch up with some old ones on my TBR list. I’m also trying to improve my Hebrew and am currently reading and enjoying the Hebrew edition of Ya’akov Shabtai’s unfinished last novel סוף דבר (published in English as Past Perfect). In circumstances when I […]

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Book review: Muck by Dror Burstein

January 24, 2019

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“… readers will enjoy this funny, imaginative, and handsomely crafted novel first and foremost as a memorable work of literature, and as such it deserves to reach a wide audience.” — From my review of Muck by Dror Burstein in New York Journal of Books

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Book review: The William H. Gass Reader

November 7, 2018

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  “According to Gass a total aesthete reduces everything to style; the centrality of moral and ethical issues in his writing proves that Gass is not merely an aesthete. Whether or not they agree with him his readers will never be cognitively malnourished, and his poetic prose is a joy to read even when its […]

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Book review: Late Beauty: Poems by Tuvia Ruebner

November 1, 2018

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“Readers who devoured In the Illuminated Dark will welcome the additional poems in Late Beauty, and for readers unacquainted with Ruebner’s poetry Late Beauty provides a portal.” — From my review of Late Beauty: Selected Poems of Tuvia Ruebner translated from the Hebrew by Lisa Katz and Shahar Bram in New York Journal of Books.  […]

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Book review: The Mandela Plot by Kenneth Bonert

June 4, 2018

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“South African born Jewish-Canadian author Kenneth Bonert’s sophomore effort The Mandela Plot is a sequel to his multiple awards winning debut novel The Lion Seeker (also reviewed on NYJB) that continues the Helger family saga begun in the earlier volume in a rather dark combination coming of age story and political thriller. A concluding epilogue in the final […]

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