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"Though Moving Kings is considerably shorter and more accessible—with less erudite but nonetheless stimulating vocabulary, similes, and fewer stream of consciousness run-on sentences—than Cohen’s previous novel Book of Numbers (also reviewed on NYJB) it, too, skillfully weaves descriptive character portraits and plot lines into a novel of ideas that addresses issues as diverse as capitalism, gentrification, army veterans, the IDF’s conduct in the West Bank, and Jewish identity with sharp sardonic humor." -- from my review in New York Journal of Books



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Also see Lit Hub's interview with Cohen about the novel
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The Lost Civilization of Suolucidir by Susan Daitch
The Lost Civilization of Suolucidir
by Susan Daitch

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“After reading The Lost Civilization of Suolucidir readers will want to start over again to see what details they may have missed the first time through, and yes, this richly crafted and handsomely written novel rewards rereading. It also demonstrates that an ironic post-modern novel of ideas can be suspenseful and include complex characters readers can care about while feeling powerless to alter their fates.” — from my review of The Lost Civilization of Soulucidir by Susan Daitch in New York Journal of Books

Read an excerpt of the novel here.
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"Max’s Diamonds, Jay Greenfield’s debut novel published last week by New York publisher Chickadee Prince Books, is a guilty pleasure, a book I enjoyed and could barely put down for its suspenseful serpentine plot despite its pedestrian and occasionally heavy-handed prose." -- From my examiner article. Also see my New York Journal of Books review, which concludes "with Max's Diamonds readers are rewarded with a fun and absorbing read whose fortuitous May publication date makes it a felicitous beach or airplane book."
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"At first glance two historical novels published last week have little in common. Where Charles Bock’s second novel Alice and Oliver is a starkly realistic and unflinching portrait of a marriage undergoing trial by health crisis in 1990s New York, Jennifer S. Brown’s debut novel Modern Girls, on the other hand, is a warm, heimisheh tale of two generations of women in a Jewish immigrant family on Manhattan’s Lower East Side in the 1930s whose opportunities and choices were limited by their gender." -- from my 4/13/16 examiner article. Also see my reviews of the two books in New York Journal of Books .
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ARoombookcovers
In my New York Journal of Books review of Youval Shimoni's A Room I write: "A Room is strongly recommended to readers of post-modern and experimental fiction who enjoy stream of consciousness narratives and who are willing to delve deeper than a thin plot’s surface level."

See my examiner article for additional excerpts from the novel.
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My review of Captivity by György Spiró appears in New York Journal of Books. Additional remarks about the novel and its historical background are found in my examiner article.
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bookofnumbersbookcover


What happens when a down on his luck luddite novelist is hired to ghostwrite a memoir by a math whiz tech mogul who shares his (and the author of this novel’s) name? ...At close to 600 pages of dense prose Book of Numbers is not light reading. I close my NYJB review by recommending it to “readers as ambitious as it is.” -- from Jewish books: Joshua Cohen's Book of Numbers is a high tech epic Also see my New York Journal of Books review. A challenging but fun and rewarding read!
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"Alexis Landau’s cinematically descriptive, character-driven debut novel explores ethnic identity via an intermarried family in WWI and Weimar era Germany, i.e. before anti-Semitism became official state policy legally codifying ethnic definitions." -- from my New York Journal of Books review in which I praise the book as “handsomely written” as well as a “powerful and compelling novel.” My additional remarks and excerpts from the book appear in examiner.com.
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“...recommended to readers who enjoy interior prose and psychological literary fiction.” -- from my review of Five Selves by Emanuela Barasch Rubinstein in New York Journal of Books. My additional remarks and excerpts from the book appear in examiner.com.
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“. . . the novel’s epic sweep, engaging prose, suspenseful plot, sense of humor, and introduction to a fascinating subculture outweigh its flaws.” - from my New York Journal of Books review. For additional remarks also see my examiner article.
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The Betrayers succeeds by combining thought provoking ethical dilemmas with dramatic tension in an engaging prose style and is enthusiastically recommended.” - from my New York Journal of Books review (which includes spoilers). For additional remarks, excerpts, and an exploration of the novel as a roman a clef see my examiner article.

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"Stephanie Feldman’s debut novel The Angel of Losses, which was published last week by New York-based HarperCollins imprint Ecco Press, is a welcome addition to the Jewish fantasy fiction genre." --examiner.com

In my New York Journal of Books review of the novel I write, “The Angel of Losses is recommended to nerdy (in the best sense of the word) secular Jewish and philo-Semitic readers whose genre interests include the confluence of contemporary and fantasy fiction.”

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Slava Gelman, the protagonist of Boris Fishman's debut novel A Replacement Life, fabricates Holocaust narratives for elderly Russian immigrants' reparations claims applications. In my NYJB review I write, "Slava knows that to make his stories convincing he has to get the details right, and despite the leaps of faith Fishman demands he provides more than enough correct details and well crafted figurative turns of phrase to convince most readers to go along with him—and those who do will be amply rewarded by this multidimensional and handsomely written debut novel." For additional remarks about A Replacement Life see my examiner article.

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 "David Grand’s third novel, Mount Terminus, is written in luscious, erudite prose so dense his readers have no choice but to read it slowly." 

-- from my review of Mount Terminus by David Grand on New York Journal of Books. Also see my examiner article.

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In my New York Journal of Books review I describe Ellen Litman's second novel Mannequin Girl as “a welcome addition to the coming of age genre that will appeal both to adult readers and to precocious teenagers.” Also see my examiner article about this novel set in 1980s Moscow.

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Set in 1930s and 1940s Johannesburg, South Africa, Jewish-Canadian writer Kenneth Bonert's debut novel The Lion Seeker is a bildungsroman, immigration story, and family saga rolled into a page turner. In my New York Journal of Books review I refer to the book as a promising debut. To hear an interview with Mr. Bonert go to my examiner article.

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Muki Tzur speaking tour poster

On each of the first three days of the coming week there will be a talk by guest speakers on Jewish topics in East Midwood and Park Slope: Brooklyn: Three Jewish talks this week - New York NY | Examiner.com

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The Golem and the Jinni book cover

“The Golem and the Jinni is recommended to adults who enjoy a good story and have a childlike sense of make-believe.”

My review of The Golem and the Jinni | New York Journal of Books. Also see additional remarks in my examiner.com article:

People of all ages enjoy fairytales and the folk tales. Helene Wecker's debut novel The Golem and the Jinni, published today by New York publisher HarperCollins, combines several fiction genres in a work that feels like a fairytale. In my New York Journal of books review of the novel I describe the book as "a fairy tale for grown ups that combines historical fiction and paranormal fantasy in a novel of ideas that is also a tearful love story and a suspenseful page-turner."


Helene Wecker, author of The Golem and the Jinni
Cozy Little Book Journal


The folklore underlying the book is both Eastern European Jewish and Levantine Arab in origin. Jewish folk tales are fun reads, but in most of them you won't learn much about Judaism. The same is true of this novel. In interviews Ms. Wecker has admitted that her knowledge of Judaism is by and large limited to what she learned as a child in Hebrew school.

The first of the two title characters is created by a corrupt kabbalist. Here Ms. Wecker is taking poetic license. Traditional Judaism has its share of magic and superstition, but the magic is supposed to be white magic. In theory a corrupt kabbalist would be an ineffective one, since the efficacy of the magic depends on the purity of the practitioner's intent as well as on his or her strict ritual observance, but from a Jungian perspective we all have a shadow side to our psyches, and anyway, this is a book whose premise demands multiple suspensions of disbelief.

As in most love stories boy meets girl, they get to know each other noting similarities and differences, they break up, and a dramatic crisis reminds them of their feelings for each other and brings them back together. To find out how that basic scenario plays out in detail for the novel's supernatural title characters you'll have to read the book.

In addition to the title characters the book has a strong cast of supporting characters including the title characters' human mentors, protectors, and co-workers, and people in Eastern Europe and the Levant who figure in the backstories prior to the title characters' immigration to late 19th Century New York.

Ms. Wecker wrote The Golem and the Jinni as an attempt to combine the folklores of her Jewish ancestors and of her Arab-American husband's ancestors and to imagine a time and place where Jews and Arabs lived in peace as neighbors. But the historical reality in turn of the previous century New York was that the Jewish immigrants of the Lower East Side and the Arab immigrants of the Lower West Side rarely crossed paths. It is also worth noting that turn of the previous century Levantine Jewish immigrants chose to live among their European co-religionists on the Lower East Side rather than among their former neighbors from the old country in Little Syria.

In my New York Journal of Books review I recommend The Golem and the Jinni "to adults who enjoy a good story and have a childlike sense of make-believe." This novel would make a terrific HBO original series combining the supernatural elements of True Blood and Game of Thrones with the historical authenticity of Boardwalk Empire, Deadwood, John Adams,and Rome.


Helene Wecker, author of The Golem and the Jinni
Helene Wecker, author of The Golem and the Jinni
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The Jewish Book Council's 2012 book of the year is not one book but three: the three volume box set City of Promises: A History of the Jews of New York published last September by New York University Press.

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