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Nice Jewish Books is a podcast focusing on adult Jewish fiction. On this podcast, we chat with authors about Jewish literature, historical fiction, science fiction and fantasy, mysteries, works in translation, and more. As long as a book has a Jewish theme, it’s a candidate for our show! This is a project of the Association of Jewish Libraries, the leading authority on Judaica Librarianship,
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We start in a familiar place, in contemporary Chicago, where Jennifer, a museum curator, is asked to go to Belarus to create a living installation of Jewish life there before the Holocaust. She invites a distant cousin to participate, and she brings with her an old Yiddish literary magazine to use as a prop in the installment. In each chapter we mo…
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Adam is a twelve year old boy preparing for his bar mitzvah in Flushing New York in the early 1970. In many ways, he is a typical kid, trying to fit in at school, but also trying to find himself and find ways to stand out. But his year is off to a difficult start when his parents decide to move the family to a different neighborhood and at the same…
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While the body of Yiddish literature is vast, many people still think of Tevye the milkman, trudging along with his lame horse and arguing with God. But the many new translations of Yiddish fiction show the breadth and depth of the settings, characters, and topics covered as well as the many different voices of the authors. This past fall, Nice Jew…
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Leah is not your typical Chinese-Jewish owner of a kosher Chinese restaurant. She is also a woman on the run from Yuk-Wong, a drug lord determined to marry her against her will. And if that wasn't enough drama in her life, she is also the host/recipient of the Spirit of Water with all the powers that entails. When Yuk-Wong's minions find her in New…
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When people think of Operation Moses, they usually think of a plane full of Ethiopian Jews, the Beta Israel, arriving in Israel. But their journey started long before the plane ride and continued for years after arriving. Kim Salzman follows a single family as they journey in three groups from Ethiopia to Sudan, to Israel, and into the Israeli abso…
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Lesbian, poet, activist, and Yiddishist Irena Klepfisz speaks about her lastest book, Her Birth and Later Years : New and Collected Poems, 1971-2021 with Yermiyahu Ahron Taub. Yermiyahu is a poet and Yiddishist in his own right. He and Irena have been friends for years. They speak about her process of writing and her use of Yiddish in her work as w…
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During World War 11, Japanese citizens were rounded up and sent to internment camps. When they were finally released, the vast majority had lost their homes and businesses. In the upcoming episode of Nice Jewish Books, I speak with Josh Tuininga about one of the rare exceptions to this appalling situation. Josh focuses on the Sephardic Jewish commu…
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If I told you that this episode was going to be about a house which ran around on chicken legs, you might assume that this should belong to an odd looking children’s book. But NO! This is a full-fledged intruiguing adult adventure. When the Yaga siblings inherit their grandmother’s house, they set off on a journey to hide from the mysterious man wh…
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When Jamie's family moves from a liberal Jewish area of San Francisco to a conservative area of Florida, he decides to go back into the closet. But when he meets Alex, the football star, sparks fly between them which un-nerves both of the teens. Can they work out their feelings for each other while navigating homophobia? Join me for a conversation …
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Twins JoJo and Bronka are coming of age in the United States in the 1960s. Daughters of Orthodox Jewish parents, they both have dreams and ambitions; JoJo of becoming an actress and Bronka of becoming an journalist. But shadows follow them: their parents' holocaust experience, US politics, neo-Nazis, sexism, and an unplanned pregnancy. Join me for …
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Casey is a teenager living in New Orleans, when her parents decide that she is getting into too much trouble. They move the family back to Brooklyn to be closer to their Orthodox Jewish Syrian community. But will she end up trapped in the Marriage Box? Join me for a conversation with author Corie Adjmi. Follow along with the transcript. Connect wit…
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We may not be able to live in the past, but it is nice to visit it sometimes. Join me for a nostalgic journey back to Jewish sleep-away-camp with Eric Glickman as we talk about his graphic novel Camp Pock-a-wocknee : dynomite summer '77. Follow along with the transcript. Support the author, AJL, and independent book stores by buying their book here…
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What if David and Goliath were actually lovers and con artists? What if the Scotts turned about to be God's chosen people? What if Ilan Ramon had been on the Columbia ground crew instead of in the shuttle? Andrea Lobel and Mark Shainblum collect an intriguing collection of "what ifs" in Jewish history and modern midrash, or "Jewish fan fiction" of …
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Scheherazade telling stories to spellbound soldiers, Sephardic kids "borrow' and old confused man off the street to pose as their Holocaust surviving grandfather, and the son of a shoemaker who delights in climbing construction cranes ... these are just a few of the characters who appear in Omer Friedlander's Association of Jewish Libraries' award …
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This episode of The Book of Life features Sarah Aroeste,a singer/songwriter of Ladino music and an author of board books featuring Sephardic culture and Ladino vocabulary andBridget Hodder, a Sephardic author of middle grade and picture books. Follow along with the transcript. Support the author, AJL, and independent book stores by buying their boo…
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After her beloved father's death, Lena is stunned to learn that he was not her biological father. She had never felt as close to Regina, her Russian-born mother. But as Regina's story unfolds from her early life in Moscow to her early adulthood in Birobidzhan, the Jewish Autonomous Region, their relationship begins to heal. Alina Adams gives us an …
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In a Nice Jewish Books first – I won’t be speaking with the author of the book From the Jewish Provinces, Fradl Shtok, but rather her translators, Jordan Finkin and Allison Schachter. Fradl Shtok was born in the Austro-Hungarian empire and started her writing career there. She later moved to New York and continued her writing career. Although bette…
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In this historical novel based on both their families’ histories, I speak with author's Shaunna Edwards and Alyson Richman. In the novel, we follow two couples. Jacob and Lilly are a Jewish couple living in New York while Stella and William are both slaves in New Orleans. Both men are fighting for the Union and they bond over their love of music. B…
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Journo (journalist) Shanna Regan was researching historical plaques for the town news magazine when she encounters fake plaques. Instead of praising a former residents, the plaques told of a person's malicious actions and a statement this if they don't repent, that they will never rest in peace. With a stalker, a murky family history, and new plaqu…
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Aviva Rosner is a rock star, committed to speaking about truth of her life, even if, or especially if, it makes other people uncomfortable. She has a happy marriage, and loyal fans. What she doesn’t have is a baby. In Human Blues, by Elisa Albert, we follow her through 9 months of her cycles of hope, grief and frustration. Follow along with the tra…
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17th century Venice is fascinating time and place in history; especially for Jews. Join me for a conversation with Nina Wachsman about her latest book, A Gallery of Beauties. Her protagonist, Diana, daughter of the chief rabbi of Venice, must decide if she wants her life to remain centered in the Jewish Ghetto, or to become a protege of a famous Ve…
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Sarah can't help being a match-maker; she sees a mystical light between people who are meant for each other. But can she stand up to the local male matchmakers who are angry at her for taking their business? And what is her granddaughter Abby to make of her journals? Join me for my talk with author Lynda Loigman about love, soul-mates, and pickles …
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Join me for a wider ranging talk with Derek Miller about the mystery of Sheldon's father's death, Jewish life in rural America, and Yankee ingenuity. How to find your way in the Dark is the winner of the 2022 Association of Jewish Libraries' Jewish Fiction Award. Follow along with the transcript. Support the author, AJL, and independent book stores…
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What connects a Warsaw Holocaust era orphanage and a 1970's West Bengal village? It is a play, the Post Office, written by Rabindranath Tagore, and performed in both places. Jai Chakrabarti skillfully weaves together 1940s Warsaw and 1970s New York and India and discusses the role of the arts in healing and inspiring people. Support the author, AJL…
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After reading Chaim Potok's early works, author Maggie Anton wondered, "where were the women?" In her latest novel, The Choice: Love, Faith, and Talmud, Maggie imagines what life might have been like for women living in Potok's world. To find out more about Maggie Anton and her work, check out her website. Read the transcript. Support the author, A…
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Mathemetician/nuclear physicist Anna, is briefly launched into the future when the Chernobyl nuclear power plant melts down. She sees her estranged daughter, Molly dying from a violent injury. Now Anna has to figure out a way to travel to the past to reconnect with her daughter and hopefully save her life. Join me for a fascinating talk with Rachel…
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Kayla is a piano prodigy. From a very young age, she has struggled to balance her musical life with family tensions and mental illness. Not to mention the mysterious stalker. Join me for a wide-ranging talk with Bruce Berger about music, mental illness, and family dynamics. Read the transcript Support the Young Musicians Foundation Support the auth…
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It is the late1890's London and all is not well. A dense fog is creeping through the streets transforming people into other-worldly creatures and the "Elegents" walk the streets killing at will. Can a neer-do-well second son of a banker and a young Jewish woman solve these horrific mysteries and perhaps save the bank along the way? Join me for a co…
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Mirta Trupp writes "Jewish Historical Fiction : For those who like a little Yiddishkeit with their Period Drama." I had a great conversation about her latest book, Celestial Persuasion, a Jane Austen fan fiction as well as a great stand-alone work. Read the transcript Check out her site, https://mirtainestruppauthor.com/ Follow her on Goodreads and…
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Can secrets bring a family together? or tear them apart? In Rachel Beanland's novel, Florence Adler Swims Forever, Florence's family must figure out how to grieve her untimely death, while keeping it a secret from her bed-bound pregnant sister. Based on a true incident from her family history, Rachel imagines what life would have been like for the …
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Talia Carner is a longtime global activist on women's economic and health issues, and also a longtime multi award winning writer. I learned so much after speaking with her about Sholem Aleichem, The Third Daughter, and sex trafficking. We also get a sneak peek at her upcoming novel. You can support Talia, independent book stores, and AJL by buying …
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Mary Marks created the spunky, middle-aged, plump and curvy, quilting protagonist Martha Rose. Martha and her circle of quilting friends seem to bump into dead bodies with alarming frequency. Luckily, they are able use their observational skills, intuition, and persistence to "help" the police catch the killers. Join me for a far-reaching conversat…
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