Thursday, January 23, 2014

To the entire Jewish Grand Strand Community: If you live in the Grand Strand area, or a Snowbird, or visiting, and are in a book club, are a book lover, and love literary culture you may be interested in our Jewish Grand Strand Reads event on March 2nd.






Jewish Grand Strand Reads is being sponsored by Temple Beth Elohim, Temple Emanu-El, Temple Shalom and Hadassah




 We are reading the novel, The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker-A great read. Everyone is welcome, and you don't have to be affiliated with any religion. The event is at Sea Captain's House on March 2nd at 1 PM.
                                                           
                                                                  Our guest speaker is:
                                                                                  
 Rabbi Debbie Slavitt, Professor from Coastal Carolina University. We will also have literary giveaways!!!
 The cost is $20 inclusive. We are organizing the event to share the love of reading with other readers. We are non-profit, and not affiliated with anyone. 

There are other events leading up to March.  For further information you may contact Susan at  susansliterarycafe@gmail.com or to make a reservation you may contact Kat Kahn at katzmeow@aol.com. Contact Kat for a menu selection. The cost is $20 inclusive.

Please, Please, Please! Spread the word to any of your friends. Again, everyone is welcome, invite your husbands, wives, friends and acquaintances.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

All The Organizing is over, Now The Fun Begins.

I am happy to say everything is finally in place for our first  " Jewish Grand Strand Reads". It has been a very long process. I did it last year, but it was word of mouth without any of the temples being involved.  This year all the Jewish organizations are supporting it.

I was worried about this year with all the organizations involved. I thought I would loose control of my "baby". Luckily, this did not happen.  The different organizations let us run with it. Do the planning how we wanted.  Jesse, our temple's secretary at Temple Emanu-El has been great. She helped us with flyers and sending out emails.  Check out the invitation and flyer.




The only thing left is publicity. I am still hoping that our local paper would jump on board and talk to us about our event.  As of yet, nothing has happened. I really thought they would be interested because they don't have anything like this in town.  The Myrtle Beach community doesn't have a community read.  I was hoping that this may interest the community. But, I have to remember this is different than up north.

Anyway I am happy that the organizational part is done. We now have to wait for the end of the month RSVP's will start coming in.  We picked a nice restaurant in town called, Sea Captain's House. It is beautiful right on the water. The restaurant is encased in glass.   The menu is preset with everything inclusive with our guest speaker. I think it is a terrific deal, and a nice afternoon.

Are you wondering what book we picked? If you follow my blog than you may already know.  It is The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker.   I have been promoting The Golem And The Jinni to the hilt. Helene must be sick of me now. She must think I am a stalker. LOL!!

             I LOVE THE BOOK THAT MUCH!!! MY FAVORITE BOOK OF ALL TIME


I have been wanting her to come down to South Carolina. But, unfortunately I am not sure why. No one has asked her to tour down south. I don't know why the Jewish community down here has not asked her to any Jewish speaking engagements. But, for that matter I don't think anyone has asked her up north either.  I am wonder why her novel has not caught on...



 A wonderful read. If you have not heard of it, you must have your head in the sand.  Everyone in our Jewish Community that has read it, LOVED IT! That must mean something.  I did not think I was a fan of magical realism.  But all that has changed recently.  Hoping some producer buys the rights to make this into a movie.

The book has romance, historical fiction, Jewish themes, magical creatures, Middle East and Jewish cultural themes. You can read my review here and also her guest post you can scroll below and find her there.

 You can check out the novel on Helene Wecker's website, also the author just had a wonderful discussion and Q/A on goodreads. One other event our book club is having, Helene Wecker will be joining us on SKYPE next month. We are all excited to meet her.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

G-d Bless Ariel Sharon

                                     
                                                 February 26, 1928- January 11, 2014
  From 2001-2006 Prime Minister Ariel Sharon served  his country. Before he was Prime Minister he was Defense Minister for Israel. He also became a general in the (Israel's military) IDF.  He was surrounded by controversy during his military and state office.

In 2006 he succumbed to a massive stroke and had been in a coma for eight years.  He was larger than life during his lifetime.  He fought til the end of his life as he did in life, like a warrior.  He was surrounded by personal tragedies. He is the news article announcing his death in the Jewish Forward. Another article about the love-hate relationship we had with him in the United States

  Here is the official website of Prime Minister Sharon.  The Jerusalem Post has a article about his passing and funeral here.  I pray for Prime Minister Sharon and his family. You can now be in peace. May your name be in blessed memory.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Snow In August: Wondeful Read







Snow in August
By Pete Hamill



This book is not written by a Jewish author, which makes this even more wonderful to read. I am not starting a debate what makes a book Jewish or not?  I am posting it because it is about a Catholic boy, and how he connects with a Rabbi.  
This is the third time reading. Because of our community read, The Golem and the Jinni; we decided to pick this one. Pete Hamill's story is wonderful. 

Michael, Irish Catholic 10 year old. Living in Brooklyn in the 1940's. Michael is a average kid, there isn't any TV. Instead,Michael likes to go to the local movie theatre where he's mom works-with his friends. He also enjoys reading comic books- Superman. 

Michael, and his Brooklyn friends are threatened by the gang, The Falcons. I should say the entire neighborhood is afraid of this thug. Michael just happens to be in Mr. G's store ( Mr. G is Jewish)at the wrong time. Mr. G sticks up for Michael. The thug( can't remember his name), beats up Mr. G pretty badly. Michael witnesses the crime. He is not a snitch; he is not going to tell. In the meantime, a local Rabbi see's Michael one day going down the street, He asked Michael a favor. Because it is Saturday, Shabbat for the Jews, a holy day. Would Michael be the Shabbos Goy? 

What turns out to just be a favor turns into a friendship that will forever change both Michael, and the Rabbi. Rabbi Hirsch wants to learn better English. Rabbi Hirsch asks Michael, if you teach me English, I will teach you Yiddish- Michael agrees. 

What happens is Michael and Rabbi Hirsch become close, and learn about each other. Rabbi Hirsch, we learn about his wife during the Holocaust. We also learn about the story of the " Golem of Prague". Michael we learn about his father's death during the war. But. also the hardship of living in the tenements with his single mother. 

Michael's troubles without his father;trying too grow up too fast. He is trying to be strong for his mother. Since there is trouble brewing on the streets of Brooklyn( Falcon gang). Michael is worried about the Falcons. They think he snitched. Because the cops keep showing up at unexpected places. He's friends have abandoned him as well. He's only friend is Rabbi Hirsch. 

Each of them become stronger and reach out to each other to help each other, as they friendship becomes stronger. Their connection is baseball, and Jackie Robinson. They talk about these two things every time they meet. Michael is excited one day, the Rabbi got tickets for the baseball game. This is all Michael can think about till the actual game. He is so excited. 

After the game, Michael admits to Rabbi Hirsch what happened to Mr. G. Rabbi Hirsch's advise to Michael. Sometimes not telling is worse than the crime itself. 

The rest of the story is very moving and Mystical. I only learned about the Golem from reading Snow in August. It is a very moving sweet story about a boy growing up in Brooklyn in the 1940's. I will worn you that there is antisemitism, and discrimination in Snow in August. But that is the point of the story. 

If you are waiting to hear about the Golem. Yes, there is a golem that is created in the story. But, I am not going to relate that to you. That will just ruin it. The book brought tears to my eyes what happens at the end. I would love to tell you why. But, I just can't. If you do read the book. Check out other background info. about the golem. There is also on Netflix, a episode of X-Files called Kaddish. Then check out youtube, you will find the movie, Snow in August; the movie adaption.

My take of the story, is a growing up tale. There is nostalgia, 1940's, Brooklyn N.Y.  If you bought  or have the newest version of Snow in August. You are in for a treat. Because the back of the book explain's why the author wrote Snow in August.  I Just loved this book. You are doing yourself a disservice if you don't read it. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Blog Tour: Line Up





Today, I have been invited to participate in the TLC Book Tour of, Line Up.  I would like to thank TLC Book Tours asking me to participate.  You can visit the other stops at TLC Book Tours site, and a special treat, a interview at CBS News with the author, Llad Shoham. .
 This is the first time I am reading a novel that takes place in Israel. I have always been told to stay away from books from Israeli author's because of the translation.  Too many strange names, and places.  Even though I know a little hebrew, I have always been put off.

Either, they never heard of this author before, Liad Shoham, or we were told wrong. Because Line Up, is terrific. It gets you at the first sentence and grabs you, and it doesn't let you go. 

I don't know much what comes out of Israel. But, what I do know it is used to be there was limited books translated to English. But, now it seems that there are more authors able to be translated and read by English speaking language. 

I am very happy I read this book. There is many twists and turns, and holds your attention.

It starts in Tel Aviv, Israel,with the noisy retired, older lady, Sara Glazer. She is  watching out in the wee hours of the morning making sure that her neighbor picks up after his dog. 

Sara Glazer, notices a man and a woman, then a struggle, she realizes it is more sinister, it is a rape. But, she keeps her mouth closed. Can she identify the man?

But, what we do know is Adi Regav has been raped brutally. After the rape she and her family will never be the same. Adi, is a single, independent woman. She is terrified every day, wondering what is lurking outside her window. Her father,Yaron sits and waits outside of her apartment building, waiting there to protect his daughter. 

One night, while he is sitting out in his car, while he's daughter is in her apartment. Yaron notices something strange. A man is following a woman. He thinks to himself definitely, this is the same man that raped my daughter. He bring him to justice. But, not everything seems as it should. 

He manipulates he's daughter, and pretty much persuades her to give the confession.  She is not sure if this is the guy, but believes her father, that she is doing the right thing.  But, then she recants her story and is left off.   Why is she being so gullible?  Why is she being persuaded.  Should you always believe your parents? Would you have done the same thing?

The man picked up is, Ziv. He works for a mafia mob boss. But, he is mistakenly picked up. He is not about to tell the real truth about what he was doing outside her window.  He keeps his mouth quiet. They are accusing him of something else.    Then realizing they don't know the original crime he committed.

He is not going to tell the police what really went down. He is released on a technicality. The mafia is looking for him. But, luckily Ziv is one step ahead of them. This is when it gets exciting. 

That is all I am going to reveal. Because if I reveal too much more I will ruin it for you. 

This is not my type of book. I usually read literary fiction, or historical fiction. But, when TLC book tours asked me if I was interested, I jumped at the chance. 

For years I wanted to read something from my "tribe". But,there wasn't anything that took my fancy. I am so glad, that TLC Book Tours contacted me.

I was in the need of a fun book. I have not found any good books to read lately. But, this one hits the spot if you are in the mood of a fun, beach read. 

One thing, I have noticed not putting the author down. The writing is not flowery, or pretty. It is simple writing, like you were reading a newspaper. The author doesn't trick you. He gets to the point. This book doesn't make you think, and question. Just read it for what it is. 

On the cover of the book it did not tell me if the novel was translated or not.  It hit me, the writing was different, perhaps it was not translated.   The writing is not a usually writing style of any authors I know.   Not even John Grisham writes as plain as that. 

Why would the author not write in his native language Israel first. Strange, but it made me think of the writing style.   Anyway,  The novel is a best seller in Israel.  I wonder why??   I thought it was great, no matter if I am not used to the writing style.


                                                                                          
                                                        
                     

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

August Jewish Book Carnival





The Jewish Book Carnival was posted last week. Sorry I am a bit late for posted the link here. It is a wonderful smorgasbord of books this month. From fiction post to holocaust, to the high holidays almost upon us.  

The fiction post is by me, of course you guessed, The Golem and the Jenni.  Anyhoo!!  Where did the summer go we are right around the corner for September.
Here is the link, to the Jewish Book Carnival. http://www.leoraw.com/blog/2013/08/august-jewish-book-carnival/#comment-33160.   If you have time visit this wonderful Jewish Book Carnival hosted this month by Leora. Great job for her first time.

It is a little early, but because classes have already started for me. I don't have much time this week. I have to catch up. Since some of the classes are online, and learning the technology.  All of the homework, and tests are to be submitted on a special website.  I had to teach my self last week, before starting the actually school work.  So, I am a bit rushed.  My first work is due tommorrow, and quizes are all due on Sunday night before 12.



I would like to wish you all La Shana Tova,  a happy and sweet new year 5774!!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Jewish Book Carnival: Author Helene Wecker






Finally it's here my interview with Helene, the author of The Golem and the Jenni.  If you have not heard of her, you must have had your head in the sand literally. I can't believe being a debut author this is her first novel. Where has she been?

After reading her fabulous novel. I have not read anything that lives up to anything else.  Lush in history and description of character, place, and time.  It is a tour of nostalgic turn of the century New York City, circa 1899.  You can read my review here.  Also some background resources for you. Visit youtube to watch a full feature silent movie, The Golem(1920). Here is her website.


 Hi, Helene thank you for taking the time to visit me at Susan's Literary Cafe.  Welcome!!!

First I would like to tell you Helene, you have become my favorite author of all time.  Your novel speaks volumes to me.  It has all the elements, of historical fiction, magical realism, romance, storytelling, suspense, and so much more.  The best part, because I am a transplant from the north, you bring New York City to life.  It is more thing that I miss living in South Carolina.


Helene is a debut author for the novel, The Golem and the Jenni.     She grew up in Libertyville, Illinois, a small town north of Chicago, and received her Bachelor’s in English from Carleton College in Minnesota. After graduating, she worked a number of marketing and communications jobs in Minneapolis and Seattle before deciding to return to her first love, fiction writing. Accordingly, she moved to New York to pursue a Master’s in fiction at Columbia University. She now lives near San Francisco with her husband( her husband comes from a Syrian family) and daughter.

Helene, What was the inspiration for your novel? Why the characters of the Golem and the Jinni? And why set it in turn-of-the-century New York, instead of modern New York?
When I was in grad school, I started working on a series of linked short stories about my own Jewish family and my husband's Arab-American family. A couple of the stories were okay, but the rest were not very good, and I knew it. I was talking with a friend of mine about it, and how frustrated I was. She suggested I try a different approach. She knew that I was a scifi/fantasy geek, and she challenged me to add a fantastical element, to take the stories out of the realm of straight-up realism. So instead of a Jewish girl and an Arab-American boy, I decided to write about a golem and a jinni. I thought I was just taking a break and writing a fun little story, but then it became clear that I had a novel on my hands. I set it in turn-of-the-century New York because that was when the first big waves of Jewish and Syrian immigrants were arriving in America. I thought the communities would be new and chaotic enough that a golem and a jinni could hide pretty easily -- unlike today, when you need a driver's license and a birth certificate, and and everything's on camera. Also, one of my original ideas was to tell the story over a hundred years! I got rid of that idea pretty quickly, though.
As a child, were your parents or grandparents big on Jewish folktales?
No, strangely enough! At least I don't remember hearing any folktales from them. My mother's parents were cosmopolitan German Jews, and Old World folktales weren't really their thing. My dad's parents were Polish Jews, and spoke Yiddish, but I don't remember them telling me folktales. Usually they were too busy trying to get me to eat! Instead of folktales at home, I had science fiction, most of it from my dad: Bradbury and Asimov and Heinlein and Star Trek. Only lately have I realized how closely some of the themes in the old golem stories match themes in classic science fiction -- only instead of golems, it's robots.


What was the inspiration for your novel? Why the characters of the Golem and the Jinni? And why set it in turn-of-the-century New York, instead of modern New York?
When I was in grad school, I started working on a series of linked short stories about my own Jewish family and my husband's Arab-American family.

 A couple of the stories were okay, but the rest were not very good, and I knew it

. I was talking with a friend of mine about it, and how frustrated I was. She suggested I try a different approach. She knew that I was a scifi/fantasy geek, and she challenged me to add a fantastical element, to take the stories out of the realm of straight-up realism.
 So instead of a Jewish girl and an Arab-American boy, I decided to write about a golem and a jinni. I thought I was just taking a break and writing a fun little story, but then it became clear that I had a novel on my hands. I set it in turn-of-the-century New York because that was when the first big waves of Jewish and Syrian immigrants were arriving in America.

 I thought the communities would be new and chaotic enough that a golem and a jinni could hide pretty easily -- unlike today, when you need a driver's license and a birth certificate, and and everything's on camera.
 Also, one of my original ideas was to tell the story over a hundred years! I got rid of that idea pretty quickly, though.
As a child, were your parents or grandparents big on Jewish folktales?
No, strangely enough! At least I don't remember hearing any folktales from them. My mother's parents were cosmopolitan German Jews, and Old World folktales weren't really their thing. My dad's parents were Polish Jews, and spoke Yiddish, but I don't remember them telling me folktales.

 Usually they were too busy trying to get me to eat! Instead of folktales at home, I had science fiction, most of it from my dad: Bradbury and Asimov and Heinlein and Star Trek. Only lately have I realized how closely some of the themes in the old golem stories match themes in classic science fiction -- only instead of golems, it's robots.
Did you mean to write a book so massive, in depth and character?
I didn't start out with that goal, certainly. Then the characters and story lines started to proliferate, and I realized that the book was going to be a lot longer than I'd originally thought. It was intimidating, but also exciting, because that's the sort of book I really love: long and involved, with a community of interesting characters. (I'm thinking of genre novels like Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, or realist fiction like the recent Skippy Dies.) At one point the book was a lot longer than it is now, at least 20 percent longer. I cut out a lot at the sentence level, but scenes and subplots too -- extraneous material that wasn't doing much besides slowing the pace.
Did you realize you had the Jewish theme of free will, or was it a accident? I understand you were not brought up in a religious household, but free will is in your novel. The rabbis teach us young about free will, so if that is the case, where did that come from?
The theme of free will came directly from my characters themselves, from the Golem's servant nature and the Jinni's imprisonment in human form. Once I'd given them these constraints, it seemed pretty clear that this would be what they had in common, and what they would talk about. As for when I first encountered ideas about free will, I honestly think it goes back to all the books I've read: stories of robots acquiring sentience, and defying their creators, and so on. Also I remember reading Paradise Lost in college, and being taken with Milton's idea that God knew ahead of time every decision we would ever make, yet we still had the free will to make those decisions. It seemed like a really interesting paradox.
What do you want your readers to come away with after reading The Golem and the Jinni?
Ideally I'd like them to come away thinking about the issues that prompted me to write the book, like the tug-of-war between duty and free will, and between tradition and modernity. Honestly, I get leery at the idea of books with messages; I think the best way to kill a book flat is to give it an obvious message. I'd rather ask questions instead.
Do you call yourself a fantasy writer or magical realism?
Either! Both! I've been calling this book a "literary historical fantasy," and I know it's being shelved all over in bookstores -- in literary fiction, or historical fiction, or fantasy/scifi. Since this is the only major project I've ever written, I'm not sure yet if I'll only be writing genre-tinged fiction. Maybe someday I'll write a book that's completely realist, which honestly for me would be a real feat. So until then I'll just call myself a writer, and leave it at that.

What books would you like to share that you enjoyed ?

book recommendations: do you read Neil Gaiman? His AMERICAN GODS is really, really good. Also you might like JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR. NORRELL by Susanna Clarke

Have you published anything before writing The Golem and the Jenni ?

I have a written a short story, from a online journal. Here is the website at http://www.joylandmagazine.com/stories/san_francisco/divestment

Thank you Helene for taking the time to visit me. Hope to hear, and read more fantastic books by you in the future.