Archive for July, 2008

CONTEMPORY NOVELS WITH THE GOLEM AS AN IMPORTANT CHARACTER

July 21, 2008

Chabon, Michael. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. New York: Random House, 2000. 659 p.

A young man, who has escaped from wartime Prague with the assistance of the Golem, joins his cousin in Brooklyn where together they create super heroes for the comic books who fight the Nazis. The novel is the story of the golden age of comic books as well as tale of these two creative young men.

Hamill, Pete. Snow in August. Boston: Little Brown, 1997. 336 p.

Michael Devlin, the Irish-Catholic son of a widow, befriends a Rabbi who is a survivor of the Holocaust living in his Brooklyn neighborhood. Michael becomes the Rabbi’s Shabbos Goy, performing tasks for the Rabbi that Jews are forbidden to perform on the Sabbath. When an anti-Semitic gang of hoodlums, terrorizes the Rabbi and the young boy and his mother, Michael strikes back, creating a Golem like the ones the Rabbi told him about, with predictable results.

Handler, Daniel. Watch Your Mouth. New York: St. Martin’s/Dunne, 2000. 240 p.

This is a wacky and bizarre family story in the form of an opera where a young man at a Jewish camp gets involved with a murderous family who may or may not be constructing a golem in the basement.

Isler, Alan. The Bacon Fancier. New York: Viking, 1997. 213 p.

This collection of four stories by the author of The Prince of West End Avenue, which begins with the story of “The Monster” a golem-like creature abandoned at birth in the ghetto of Venice, follows the lives of four Jewish men at various points in history. The stories are witty and literate with many references to Shakespeare, Francis Bacon, and Oscar Wilde.

Mulisch, Harry. The Procedure. New York: Penguin, 2002

Dutch microbiologist Viktor Werner created a living organism made from clay in his laboratory and also lost his unborn daughter. This novel is interwoven with the story of the Golem of Prague.

Piercy, Marge. He, She, and It. New York: Knopf, 1991. 446 p.

In an embattled Jewish community of a futuristic era, a scientist creates a cyborg named Yod – very much like the Golem of Prague. This is a science fiction novel that updates the Golem but the end of the Golem’s story is always the same.

Rosenbaum, Thane. The Golems of Gotham. New York: HarperCollins, 2002.

A blocked writer, whose parents, Holocaust survivors, committed suicide in a dramatic fashion in their synagogue, is haunted by their ghosts as well as the ghosts of writers who committed suicide after surviving the Holocaust after creative lives.

Sturm, James. The Golem’s Mighty Swing. Montréal: Drawn & Quarterly, 2001

In this graphic novel, Sturm depicts a Jewish team during the era of barnstorming baseball in the 1920’s and describes a Jewish ball team so eager to have a chance that they manufacture a golem from one of their players.

Andrea Kempf/July 2008  akempf@jccc.edu

KCMO Offers Jewish reading program

July 14, 2008

Henry Fortunato, Public Affairs director for the Kansas City Public Library, was interviewed in The Kansas City Jewish Chronicle this week about the upcoming Jewish Literature program at the Waldo Community Library.


KCMO library offers Jewish reading program
by Beth Lipoff, Staff Writer
If you’re looking for some in-depth discussion of Jewish literature, the Kansas City, Mo., Public Library’s “Let’s Talk About It” program might be just the thing.

The program, sponsored by the American Library Association, focuses on the identity and imagination of Jewish literature, kicks off in August with a discussion of Isaac Bashevis Singer’s novel, “Satan in Goray.”

“This is an active, participating event, where people who’ve read the book will be expected to talk about it. This is not for the Cliff’s Notes crowd,” said Henry Fortunato, director of public affairs for the Kansas City Public Library system.

Every participant will get a free copy of the book, paid for by the $2,500 ALA grant….more

Kansas City Public Library to Host: Let’s Talk About It: Jewish Literature Reading and Discussion Series

July 7, 2008

The Kansas City Public Library will host the first of five monthly discussions in a series titled “Let’s Talk About It: Jewish Literature – Identity and Imagination” at the Waldo Branch, 201 E. 75th St., on Thursday, August 21.

Designed to explore Jewish literature and culture through scholar-led discussions of contemporary and classic books, the Let’s Talk About It: Jewish Literature program at the Kansas City Public Library will explore the theme of Demons, Golems, and Dybbuks: Monsters of the Jewish Imagination over the course of five sessions scheduled for the third Thursday of every month.

Each 60-90 minute session begins at 7 p.m. and will be led by Dr. Ben Furnish, author of Nostalgia in Jewish-American Theatre and Film, 1979-2004. Furnish is also managing editor of BkMk Press and a lecturer in the Department of English at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. All sessions will be limited to 30 attendees. To register for one or more of these sessions call 816.701.3407 or you may RSVP online.

The Kansas City Public Library is one of 83 libraries across the country that received competitively-awarded grants to host the Let’s Talk About It: Jewish Literature program that was developed by Nextbook and the American Library Association (ALA). The majority of the funding will be used to provide program participants with free paperback copies of the five books that will be discussed in the series – Satan in Goray by Isaac Bashevis Singer, The Dybbuk and Other Writings by S. Ansky, The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, The Puttermesser Papers by Cynthia Ozick, and Angels in America by Tony Kushner.

“We are delighted that the ALA has selected us to host this unique book discussion series,” noted Henry Fortunato, director of public affairs at the Kansas City Public Library and lead grant writer for the project. “These five sessions at the Waldo Branch led by Ben Furnish will further our mission of encouraging public dialogue by enabling community members to engage in deep discussion on major themes in Jewish literature.”

“Monster theory is a hot area of literary research now,” added Furnish. “Monster theorists say that these supernatural literary beings can reveal a great deal about evolving cultural identity and difference. Just as medieval England’s Beowulf gives us Grendel and a dragon, so modern Jewish literature gives readers unforgettable figures like Gregor Samsa and a dybbuk, which speak powerfully to audiences making sense of their lives amid the turbulent cultural changes of the 20th century and beyond.”

The first program in the five-part series, scheduled for Thursday, August 21, 2008, will explore Satan in Goray by Isaac Bashevis Singer. An epic story of desperation and religious fervor, this first novel by the Nobel Prize-winning Singer was originally published in Poland in 1935. A dark, chilling tale that clearly reflects the anxieties of its era, Satan in Goray concerns the survivors of a 1648 massacre in an isolated Polish village who become convinced that the Messiah will arrive at any moment. Their high hopes lead to disastrous results.

Registrants for this first program in the series will be able to pick up their free paperback copy of Satan in Goray after July 15, 2008, at the Waldo Branch, 201 E. 75th St.

The remaining dates and books in the Let’s Talk About It: Jewish Literature series at the Waldo Branch include: Thursday, September 18, 2008, The Dybbuk and Other Writings by S. Ansky; Thursday, October 16, 2008, The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka; Thursday, November 20, 2008, The Puttermesser Papers by Cynthia Ozick; and Thursday, December 18, 2008, Angels in America by Tony Kushner.