Required Reading: Melbourne Jewish Writers' Festival

on Monday, May 26, 2014
Less than a week to go before the inaugural Melbourne Jewish Writers' Festival is upon us. If you're from Melbourne or can get down here for the weekend, you are in for a real treat with three nights and two days of amazing sessions. Veritably plutzing with excitement, I've pushed the usual bedside pile to the far edge of the table and plonked a few festival-relevant books in its place. For those looking for a quick primer on what to read before you come (of course you don't have to have read a single thing to enjoy this event), I recommend you hit up a few of the following:

Falling Out of Time by David Grossman: An extraordinary meditation on grief and loss
The World To Come by Dara Horn: Not her latest but the one that saw her smash it out of the park. An art heist family drama par excellence!
Sea of Many Returns by Arnold Zable: Everyone champions Cafe Scheherezade but for me it is this more recent novel that crystallises Zable's beautifully humane themes. A deeply moving book about exile, displacement and the meaning of home.
My Father's Compass by Howard Goldenberg: By turns heartbreaking and hilarious, Goldenberg's memoir is a wonderful read. I guarantee you will never forget THAT bath scene.
Murder in Mississippi by John Safran: A rollicking true-crime adventure by the reigning king of awkward comedy. You just can't make this shit up.
The Poet by Alex Skovron: His session might be about translation, and he is best known for his poetry, but Skovron's novella, The Poet, is his masterpiece. A slim, Kafkaesque work of great style and even greater substance.
Nazi Dreamtime by David Bird: A fascinating study of one of the weirder footnotes of Australian history, Bird looks at the scarily large contingents of Hitler enthusiasts during the war years.
Three Dollars by Elliot Perlman: By now a local (and possibly Australian) classic, Perlman's debut marked the start of a truly shimmering career.

Hopefully that gives you a bit of a start. There are a bunch of other fantastic writers who I have not read but I'm sure you'll also love - Irvin Yalom, Zeruya Shalev, Maria Tumarkin, Linda Jaivan, Andrea Goldsmith and more. Check out the whole program on the festival website and be sure to buy your tickets soon. Sessions are starting to sell out!


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