As you can see, the latest Fig Tree Books release, Jonathan Papernick's The Book of Stone, has hit bookstores (it is also available as an e-book). It is a novel that examines the evolution of the terrorist mentality and the complexities of religious extremism, as well as how easily a vulnerable mind can be exploited for dark purposes.
We are gratified by the steady drumbeat of critical praise that has been building in these past few weeks before publication. Take, for instance, this starred review in Library Journal. Or Booklist's view on this "rich, demanding novel" as a "rewarding literary thriller." Or Philip K. Jason's highly enthusiastic (and comprehensive) review that was recently posted on the Jewish Book Council's website.
Please do recall that we've created a book-club-friendly discussion guide for this novel that you can read (and download for printing). You can find it on our website, where you can also read the book's first chapter. We invite you to mosey on over and take a peek.
Now, on to the rest of the issue!
—Erika Dreifus, Media Editor
P.S. As always, we are grateful for the opportunity to share our latest goings-on with you. And, as always, we invite you to keep in touch with us between newsletters by clicking any of the buttons above to "like" us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and/or discover fresh content on our website. (If you have received this newsletter because someone has forwarded it to you, please be sure to subscribe for updates yourself.)
Coming in Fall 2015: Wallant, Horn, Nadler
Late last month, we proudly announced the titles on our fall 2015 list. We will be offering readers two books: a new novel, The Sea Beach Line, by emerging talent Ben Nadler; and a re-issue of Edward Lewis Wallant's The Pawnbroker, which was a National Book Award finalist in 1962, now featuring a foreword by acclaimed author Dara Horn.
Set in the underworld of post-Giuliani New York City, The Sea Beach Line melds mid-20th-century pulp fiction and traditional Jewish folklore as it updates the classic story of a young man trying to find his place in the world. After being kicked out of college for hallucinogenic drug use, Izzy Edel returns to New York. A search for his estranged father—a Polish Jew turned Israeli soldier turned New York street vendor named Alojzy—is complicated when Alojzy is reported to have died. In his quest to learn about Alojzy's life and discover the truth behind his disappearance, Izzy takes over his father's outdoor bookselling business and meets the hustlers, gangsters, and members of a religious sect who filled his world. As Izzy soon discovers, reality is not the same as fiction, and no one, not even his own father, is quite who he appears to be. Vowing to prove himself equal to Alojzy's legacy of daring fearlessness, Izzy plunges forward on a course with a criminal enterprise that will bring him answers, but at great personal cost.
As Dara Horn writes in the new foreword to The Pawnbroker, this book is "a masterpiece. Masterpieces meet a set of criteria: multidimensional characters, ambiguous moral situations, and challenges to the readers expectations, to name a few. Of course, you could also read The Pawnbroker for the plot." Indeed. The Pawnbroker was one of the first American novels to depict the lingering trauma of the Holocaust. It takes place in Harlem, where protagonist Sol Nazerman runs a pawnshop about 15 years after his liberation from the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Remarkable for its attempts to dramatize the aftereffects of the Holocaust—dream sequences in Sidney Lumet's 1964 film version are famous for being the first time the extermination camps were depicted in a Hollywood movie—The Pawnbroker is likewise valuable as an exploration of the fraught relationships between Jews and other American minority groups. The book sold more than 500,000 copies soon after it was published, and we are honored to be bringing it to a new readership.
Please visit our website for more information about these exciting titles, including author bios, opening chapters, and pre-order links. And why not start following Ben Nadler on Twitter (@BWNadler) while you're at it?
Meet-the-Author, BEA, and More May Events
'Tis a busy literary season! For starters, the Jewish Book Council's annual "Meet-the-Author" event takes place during the final week in May. If you're going to be among the attendees, we hope that you'll say hello to the FTB authors who will be present. Please look for Jessamyn Hope (Safekeeping) on Wednesday evening; for Jonathan Papernick (The Book of Stone) on Thursday morning; and for Alan Cheuse (Prayers for the Living) on Thursday afternoon.
The same week also brings the book industry's mega-event, BookExpo America (BEA) to New York. If you'll be at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center for all the fun, please stop by the Fig Tree Books booth (843A) to greet our staff and authors. We just may have some goodies to offer you.
Details on these happenings and a range of readings at some superb bookstores are available on the "Events" page on the Fig Tree Books website. Please go take a look, and check back frequently for updates.
Final Pre-Publication Giveaway for Safekeeping
This month we're pleased to offer one last opportunity for readers to win complimentary advance reading copies of Jessamyn Hope's Safekeeping, which will be out June 9.
"A summer on a kibbutz, a disparate cast of characters torn by their own past lives and the inescapable burdens of history; a plot driven by a valuable gold brooch crafted by a master goldsmith in the Middle Ages: from these seemingly ordinary materials Jessamyn Hope has wrought something wonderful."—Mark Dintenfass
"If you enjoy novels with rich characters and interesting settings, a bit of mystery, historical connections, and thinking about the meaning of life, this is a novel you'll not want to miss. Book clubs will find a plethora of topics to dive into...."—Kim H.
Good luck to all! And if you do win a copy, please share your thoughts. We appreciate reviews on Goodreads, on Amazon, and anywhere else readers talk about books. Thank you!
Who knows? Maybe we'll quote you in a future newsletter!
A Reminder Re: the FTB Blog
Miss us between newsletters? Check in with our blog! Recently noted there: Ilana Masad's discussion of Grace Paley's Enormous Changes at the Last Minute, perfectly timed for Short Story Month.
We also have a habit of sharing on our blog an assortment of online discoveries relating to American Jewish Experience (AJE), broadly defined. And you never know when you'll catch a fresh dispatch from FTB HQ.
May is Jewish American Heritage Month. (Read about the observance's history here).
So this may be an auspicious moment to remind you that in addition to publishing works of American Jewish Experience, we at Fig Tree are proud to sustain awareness of other key works that form part of our collective literary heritage.
Please visit our Book Review Center to read about your old favorites—and perhaps discover some new ones. No better time than the present!