March 14, 2006

Let's Talk About It: Jewish Literature


Between Two Worlds: Stories of Estrangement and Homecoming

Join us for a free five-part reading and discussion series called “Let’s Talk About It: Jewish Literature – Identity and Imagination.” The series explores Jewish literature and culture through scholar-led discussions of contemporary and classic books on common themes. The library’s series will explore the universal themes of estrangement and homecoming. Read an essay on these themes by Prof. Jeremy Dauber.

All sessions will take place on Wednesday evenings at the Towson Library, 320 York Road, Towson, Maryland. Each meeting will begin at 7 PM, and will probably conclude between 8:30 and 9 PM. Dr. Uta Larkey, Assistant Professor of Modern Languages at Goucher College, will lead a discussion of the book at each session.

The Centaur in the Garden  by Moacyr Scliar
March 22, 2006, 7:00 p.m. 

"I am a centaur, a mythological creature, but I am also Guedali Tartakovsky," proclaims the narrator of this affecting novel. Born half-human and half-horse to immigrants from Russia who staked out a new life in Brazil, the boy struggles with his identity. Much of the book's deadpan comedy arises from the intersection of the mythical with this real Jewish community. When the lonely Guedali finally meets a centauress, there's one problem: She is beautiful, but she is also a gentile.

Tartakovsky is a vivid symbol of the dual consciousness of Jews inspired to leave Europe for South America by philanthropist Baron de Hirsch's utopian vision—forever an outsider, yet uniquely suited to Brazil's farmlands. 

Kaaterskill Falls  by Allegra Goodman
April 5, 2006, 7:00 p.m. 

Set in the mid-1970s, this sweeping novel follows three Orthodox families over two eventful summers spent in the bucolic town where they retreat each June from the grittier confines of Washington Heights. Elizabeth Shulman, perfect wife and mother, begins to long for the secular world's "loose days and weeks." Her neighbor, Hungarian refugee Andras Melish, undergoes a crisis of faith, unable to understand his young wife's piety. Meanwhile, Rav Kirshner, the group's spiritual leader, discovers he's dying and must choose a son—Isaiah, dull but devout, or clever but worldly Jeremy—to take his place.

From their multiple perspectives, Goodman creates an exquisite group portrait that explores how individuals shape their identities within—and against—the seemingly unshakable community laws that define them.

For more information or to register for this book discussion series, call (410) 337-6362 or e-mail Pamela Flowers.

American Library Association     Nextbook