The Prime Ministers: an Intimate Narrative of Israeli Leadership by Yehuda Avner
Jewish Book Award Finalist
"...a gripping, intimate, intricately detailed and fast-paced account of Israeli politics at the highest levels...a front-row seat to the drama of Israeli statecraft in moments of crisis and triumph, tragedy and joy. I couldn't put it down." --Bret Stephens, The Wall Street Journal
"...one of the most remarkable accounts we are ever likely to get of how Israel has been governed over the decades...All of it is here...the intellectual arguments made and those that were not marshaled; the decisions taken and those that were ducked...the ultimate insider's account." --David Horovitz, The Jerusalem Post
"It is extremely rare that a skilled diplomat is placed at the pinnacle of power across several Israeli governments and can truly deliver an insider's perspective with such skill and clarity... a must-read for anyone seeking to understand Israel." Dore Gold, Former Israeli Ambassador to the UN.
"...a sweeping tome of Israeli politics and history." --Hillary Rodham Clinton, US Secretary of State
Rogov's Guide to Israeli Wines by Daniel Rogov
"Required reading for anybody interested in the wines of Israel." --Eric Asimov, The New York Times
"...a tour de force with immense detail and meticulous research." --Serena Sutcliffe, Director, Sotheby's Wine Dept.
"Rogov is by far Israel's most credible wine journalist." -Decanter Magazine
Rogues, Writers and Whores: Dining with the Rich and Infamous by Daniel Rogov
"The title is not the only thing saucy in this rich collection that matches 69 brief, punchy biographies of historical foodies with the recipes for which they are associated. Several of the subjects are, themselves, the essence of sauce. There's Louis de Bachameil, for whom the famous French concoction was named; the mysterious Suzette, she of the flaming crepe; and tart-baker Franz Sacher, "a fun-loving man who consumed enormous amounts of his own pastries." Among the rogues' gallery, Lucrezia Borgia had a leek tart named for her on her wedding day (though the food taster probably had the first bite) and the Marquis de Sade enjoyed not whipped cream but rather, Partridge a la Burgundy, brutally stuffed with grapes, chorizo and prosciutto. Though some concoctions prove complex, the writing throughout is refreshingly free of pretense...Bonus points for the many amusing illustrations by Yael Hershberg, which include Louis XIV confronting a pineapple." Publishers Weekly
Covenant & Conversation: Exodus, The Book of Redemption by Jonathan Sacks
"Covenant & Conversation is an intellectual and philosophical journey through the underpinnings of our faith and the origins of our people. The essays based on the weekly Torah portion are challenging, thought provoking, and relevant. Rabbi Sacks has a unique ability to impart to his audience an authentic appreciation for the breadth and depth of the wisdom of our Torah." --Rabbi Steven Weil, Orthodox Union
"Sacks is both a great scholar and a great communicator, and he has done a superb job in crafting commentary than is at the same time erudite and accessible to the average reader...Sacks calls on the wisdom of ancient commentators and modern scholars alike as he takes readers on their weekly journey through the Torah." - The Jewish Standard
Grub by Elise Blackwell
BookSense Pick September 2007 AND BookSense Picks 2007 Highlights.
"In this deliciously mordant send-up of the publishing world, Elise Blackwell conjures up a universe filled with talentless novelists, reptilian publishers, unprincipled agents and brain-dead critics. Thank God this is only a fantasy. Thank God any similarity to real life is entirely fortuitous."
- Joe Queenan
A Cabinet of Wonders by Renee Dodd
Kirkus and Library Journal starred reviews. Included in Kirkus Reviews "Best Books of 06" Special issue as one of "30 Outstanding Titles that Deserve Your Attention." Winner of the 2008 Townsend Prize for Fiction.
"Renee Dodd has achieved something wondrous...she has taken characters we tend to shun as 'other' and made them into ourselves by involving us in their passion, their pain, and their vulnerable, hopeful laughter. A great debut!" -- Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, author of The Mistress of Spices
Winner of Porter Prize, 1987. Winner of Heasley Prize, 1998. Inducted into the Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame in 1999. Winner of the Arkansas Fiction Award of Arkansas Library Association, 1999. Winner of 2006 Oxford American Lifetime Achievement Award for Contributions to Southern Literature.
"The quirkiest, most original body of work in contemporary US letters." - Boston Globe
"Harington is hooked into the deepest traditions of storytelling, dipping his buckets directly into the well it all comes from, pursuing a literature dedicated not to documentation or self-expression, but to fascination, to lifting us out of ourselves and the dailiness of our lives -- to making our world again wondrous and large." - Los Angeles Times
Booklist starred review, Kirkus starred review.
"Among the best of many fine novels produced by Harington, and may be, for all its expansive humanity, his finest yet... With is a novel about everything that matters." - The Boston Globe
"Transforming a kidnapping plot into an epic rural fable and then a touchingly poignant love story, Harington crafts a wildly imaginative tour de force about a young Arkansas girl who survives a harrowing abduction and undergoes a remarkable series of epiphanies...Harington's taut storytelling lends edgy suspense to the kidnapping story, and the combination of wise, comic animal voices and Adam's disembodied incarnation adds life to the pastoral narrative. Harington has invented a unique post-Faulknerian piece of fictional terrain in his Stay More novels, and this powerful effort should further enhance his reputation as one of the great undiscovered novelists of our time." Publishers Weekly
"With is very beautiful.... The book is Donald Harington at full stretch, with all that immensity of feeling that elevates his best books." - Peter Straub
The Pitcher Shower
"Donald Harington once again leads us on an enchanting journey into the magical mists and haunting hollers of the Arkansas Ozarks... In much the way that Hoppy's pitchers cast their magic spell on the inhabitants of the Ozark mountain towns through which he travels, Harington's brilliant and hilarious new novel will cast its magic spell over readers."
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"A lighthearted Ozark take on Shakespeare drives the latest whimsical installment of the Stay More series...sly narrative commentary and winning humor make this a welcome addition." Publishers Weekly
"Harington is hooked into the deepest traditions of storytelling, dipping his buckets directly into the well it all comes from, pursuing a literature dedicated not to documentation or self-expression, but to fascination, to lifting us out of ourselves and the dailiness of our lives -- to making our world again wondrous and large...I do not hesitate to call Farther Along a great novel." James Sallis, LA Times
"[The conclusion] to one of the most ambitious fictional cycles in American literature...[Harington] writes elegantly of a time gone by, and of people whom, in real life, time would have forgotten...Elegiac and complex, a feast of Southerly words that will please Harington's many admirers." - Kirkus Reviews
"Donald Harington is one of the most powerful subtle and inventive novelists in America." - The Washington Post
"He is our Chaucer, and Enduring is Harington at his brilliant, idiosyncratic best." - Ron Rash
In the Meantime by Robin Lippincott
"Lippincott has a particular knack for the shorthand dialogue that develops between people who have been together for a long time, and he portrays the complicated bonds between friends and lovers without sentimentalizing them...delivers many...tenderly molded flashes of truth." - The New York Times
The Sound of Building Coffins by Louis Maistros
"Louis Maistros has written a lyrical, complex, and brave novel that takes enormous risks and pulls them all off. He is a writer to watch and keep reading, a writer to cherish."
-- Peter Straub
"A writer of lesser ability would have been swallowed up in the swirling complexity of such a plot, plunging it to the level of a silly period piece regional novel. However, The Sound of Building Coffins is different. Maistros keeps his head above water and pulls off an admirable story because of his keen research into the history of New Orleans and his compelling style that is fired by his use of foreboding imagery. Readers can never guess what is coming next as the various threads are revealed and followed. The story, although complex, rings true because of its meticulous backdrop and immediate reader sympathy with the Morningstar family. Maistros' story is not a fantasy tale. It is about life and the timeless theme of how people integrate living with the good and the bad around them and how they can emerge with newness as a result. The Sound of Building Coffins is riveting. It is a good read and a remarkable first novel." - Endtype: A Canadian Literary Magazine
"This book sings out in true jazz fashion -- wildly inventive, oddly formed yet perfectly made, and never a sour note."
- The Anniston Star
Maistros creates a city that is part dream, part hallucination. His New Orleans embodies both the grim reality of a particular time and the city's eternal, shimmering beauty. And, with the book's title, he provides us with a new and unforgettable metaphor for the sound of hammers at work, whether boarding up for a storm or rebuilding after one."
- Susan Larson, New Orleans Times-Picayune & USA Today
"...a macabre and utterly hypnotic feat of literary imagination, an extended tale of voodoo and jazz in the Crescent City, circa the turn of the 20th century. The novel is so fluently delivered that it sometimes feels as if it were being channeled via the same spirits - evil and good - that inhabit these richly drawn characters. Maistros, a New Orleans record-store owner and former forklift operator with no formal training as a writer, has crafted a work spiked with historical characters and events, so striking and original that it probably deserves a place on the shelf of great fiction from his adopted hometown."
- Phillip Booth, St. Petersburg Times
The Misremembered Man by Christina McKenna
"McKenna's ability to create real human drama...reminded me of... Brian Moore's simply wonderful The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearn" The Washington Times
"Her portrait of rural life is amusing and affectionate, wittily and winningly detailed..." - Kirkus
A Monk Jumped Over a Wall by Jay Nussbaum
"A Monk Jumped Over a Wall is a charming, poignant and hilarious book that grabs you from page one and carries you along on a journey of self-discovery you'll never forget. With its warm, insightful humor, this book is a great gift for lawyers, law students, young professionals, and those who love them enough to help point them in the direction of happiness. A genuine pleasure!" -- Debby Applegate, Pulitzer Prize-winning author
"Nussbaum excels at developing relationships, using realistic dialog, and developing a feasible plot where lemonade gets made from the lemons which are thrown at the protagonist." - Heartland Reviews
"Nussbaum's meaningful look at the strength it takes to shed the person you thought you were to become the person you were meant to be...Bittersweet and unflinchingly real." - Kirkus
"This new novel from Nussbaum is a particularly heartfelt, contemplative contribution to this genre." - Library Journal
"Nussbaum writes like a more literary John Grisham meets a less English Nick Hornby." - Kester Smith, Bookpeople, Austin, TX
Early Bright by Ami Silber
"Debut novelist Silber delivers a captivating downhill ride through the alleys and clubs of LA's 1948 bebop scene, crafting a fascinating antihero who will do just about anything to keep his fingers on the ivories...it's hard not to root for him, even has he draws an especially vulnerable widow into his web...gripping." - Publishers Weekly
"An astonishing debut and a brilliantly engrossing read." - TimesOnline (UK)
"...Jazz aficionados and historical fiction fans alike
will relish Silber's exciting slice of Americana and will probably want to jot down
the titles she cites in the Acknowledgments section for further reading and research. Readers who enjoy gritty, naturalistic fiction will also be pleased by the book, which pulls no punches in its examination of racism, patriotism, and capitalism in America. While not for the faint of heart, Silber's debut definitely stands out from the pack."
- Library Journal
"Its matter-of-fact, close-up storytelling never shouts its ideas but shows mature confidence and trust in them...unexpectedly moving."
- LA Times
The Year the Music Changed by Diane Thomas
Library Journal Starred Review, A Book Sense *Notable Book* for September 2005
"...tender and often very funny..." Bestselling author Anne Rivers Siddons
"A bittersweet, funny, big-hearted book that perfectly captures an era..." Joshilyn Jackson, author of gods in Alabama
"Startling in its beauty! Two enormous spirits do nothing less than solve the mystery of how we learn to love -- each other and ourselves. The pitch here is perfect. The whole novel sings." David Bottoms, former Georgia Poet Laureate
"A must read novel. . . .Fresh, surprising, full-hearted, joyful and sad." Fred Chappell, former North Carolina Poet Laureate
"May engrave itself into the memories of more readers than To Kill a Mockingbird." Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"Does the world need another book about Elvis? Maybe so, if it's as good as The Year the Music Changed...Thomas pulls off the novel with panache." Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch
"Tragic and beautiful...I could talk to you for three or four hours about this book, because it's such a powerful story." John Siegenthaler, host of "The Word on Words," Nashville Public Television
An Apology for Autumn by David Turrill
Booklist Starred Review
In Turrill's An Apology for Autumn, Jim Gudsen tells the story of his brother, Herkimer, a young Lutheran pastor. When Herkimer is defrocked for refusing to expel a gay couple from his flock, he founds a new church that draws in the disaffected, a noble if not particularly original plan. But Herkimer is "a special agent for God," a Christ-figure who is accidentally pierced too many times to count; Turrill brings him to life with humor and a lyrical style. His novel is essentially a philosophical and religious argument for tolerance and for leading a life inspired by grace, combining a liberalism reminiscent of the 1960s with Greek mythology to suggest the divine. It's a great follow-up for those legions of readers who loved John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany
The King of Colored Town by Darryl Wimberley
Kirkus Starred Review. Winner of the Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction.
"It reads like Harper Lee's classic To Kill a Mockingbird but with an edge, a razor's edge... Wimberley writes a page-turner so compelling that the reader will finish it in a day if only to find out what will happen next... He creates complex characters, worthy of despising and falling in love with, characters to break your heart. And they do." -San Antonio Current
"This fine novel is about the rigors and sometimes unintended consequences of racial integration in our tormented country... fascinating." -The Washington Post
The Genizah at the House of Shepher by Tamar Yellin
Booklist Starred Review, Winner of Ribalow Prize 2006, Shortlisted for Wingate Prize 2006, Winner of the Sami Rohr Prize, 2007
"Yellin's first novel is impossible to put down... Beauty, deep love, and a timelessness will likely make it a classic." Booklist
"Warm and engrossing, rich with historical detail and unmet yearning... More than anything, this wide-ranging novel is a meditation on the power of the Holy City, able to restore or shake the faith of whoever enters." Publishers' Weekly
"A warmly portrayed, densely researched fictional history of a scattered Jewish clan migrated to Jerusalem... A fascinating, labyrinthine journey, joined to the modern-day suspense... Cohesively combines the epic and personal sense of sorrow and nostalgia rooted in home." Kirkus Reviews
"In Shulamit, debut author Tamar Yellin gives us a Jewish heroine for our time... Shepher is the Hebrew word for beauty. This stunning book has its proper name." Bookpage
"Filled with myth, mystery, and history... this novel gives the flavor of Jerusalem neighborhoods through the modern era. Recommended." Library Journal
"Assured, professional and profound... She's got a kind of Vermeer pitch to her work, just a quiet quality. This novel is beautifully crafted and combines all sorts of mythic and mundane themes and ideas in a very assured way." Jewish Chronicle
The Sin Eaters by Andrew Beahrs
Editor's Choice, Historical Novels Review.
"In language that is dense, intimate, and beautiful, Andrew Beahrs's richly imagined novel travels though meadow, forest, plague-flagged town, and ruined monastery. It is peopled by characters brimming with life. Sarah, attempting to live her remaining years touched by grace and wonder, is unforgettable. Highly recommended."
Fiction in Translation (I edited the translations)
A Paragon of Virtue by Christian von Ditfurth (German)
"German historian Ditfurth's fictional alter ego, Josef Stachelmann, makes an engaging protagonist in this well-crafted crime thriller, the first in a new series. Stachelmann, an academic based in Hamburg, is popular with students, but the thesis he needs to complete to get tenure has stalled amid an overwhelming mass of papers the professor calls his mountain of shame. He's roused from his rut by an old classmate, Oskar Winter, now a local police commissioner, who enlists his help in solving a baffling series of crimes that have claimed over the years the life of the wife and two children of respected local businessman Maximilian Holler. Despite Holler's sterling reputation, the probe's discovery of some unusual real estate deals suggests he's hiding something, perhaps connected with Holler's Nazi father. The author sensitively handles the difficult issue of how modern Germany has dealt with its past." Publishers Weekly
If You Awaken Love by Emuna Elon (Hebrew)
2007 National Jewish Book Award Finalist
"Shlomtzion Dror grew up in a religious community in Jerusalem. She and her childhood sweetheart, Yair Berman, planned to settle on the West Bank and create their ideal spiritual community. When Yair marries another women because his rabbi ordered him to do so, the devastated Shlomtzion escapes from the Orthodox world and moves to Tel Aviv, where she lives a secular life. Twenty-one years later, her world is shaken up when her daughter, Maya, a ba'ala teshuvah (newly observant Jew), moves to a West Bank settlement and announces her engagement to Yair's son, Ariel. Prompted by visiting the settlement and meeting Yair and his family, Shlomtzion examines her life and confronts both her first love and the mistakes she has made. This intensely personal story unfolds in Israel between the Six Days' War and the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. The depth of the characters and their complex love-hate relationships, a subtle plot portraying life in a religious community, and the background of modern history in an ancient land distinguish this first-rate debut." Booklist
Scholarium by Claudia Gross (German)
"This taut medieval puzzle plunges deep into the philosophical battle between the Church and scholars who dared think outside biblical confines. Reminiscent of The Name of the Rose in atmosphere, with its images of ancient tomes chained to damp stone walls in nooks inhabited by myopic scholars, the scene is set with a pervasive cloud of impending evil hovering over the Cologne Scholarium. Master Casall's murderer sends perplexing riddles to the frustrated and suspicious faculty. Casall's widow and select students disappear, the prior stirs potions in a shack, and Master Lombardi hides a guilty secret. In the midst of the debate surrounding the murder, brilliantly timed accusations of witchcraft and sorcery emerge, and rumors fly about pagan sex rites on crumbling altars. ...Gross weaves a fascinating tapestry depicting the birth of the schism between church and state and showing how the search for truth becomes a life-and-death quest for a group of determined scholars." Booklist
Our Holocaust by Amir Gutfreund (Hebrew)
Winner of 2002 Buchman Prize, 2003 Sapir Prize and 2007 Sami Rohr Choice Award
"Amir Gutfreund wrote a wonderful book. He has a keen eye for observation, elegance of language and a captivating sense of humor. I can't wait for his next book!" Meir Shalev
"A remarkable book, an impressive achievement as a literary creation and in its dealing with the subject matter without cliches or condescension, with psychological and social insights, black humor and a rare ability to tell a story. I read this book in one sitting." Haaretz
Dead Man's Share by Yasmina Khadra (French)
"One of the rare writers capable of giving meaning to the violence in Algeria today." - Newsweek
"Khadra again proves to be Camus's heir apparent in this searing prequel to his Algerian trilogy featuring Supt. Brahim Llob (Morituri, etc.), set in modern Algiers with its dual personality (one that used to inspire poets vs. one where minstrels are locked up in jails). Llob is dismayed to find his latest case involves a subordinate, Lieutenant Lino, who has become obnoxious, spending money he doesn't have to impress a new girlfriend. Lino is devastated when the woman humiliates him in public by returning to Haj Thobane, her rich former lover. Lino is later arrested after his gun is found near the body of Thobane's limo driver shot during an attack on Thobane. The pseudonymous Khadra (Mohammed Moulessehoul), a former Algerian army officer now living in France, expertly depicts a country succumbing to cruelty but buoyed by its people's hope in the future." Publishers Weekly
"This prequel to Khadra's Algerian Trilogy surprisingly caps the series, adding a psychological depth and narrative breadth worthy of the authors mainstream thrillers." - Kirkus Reviews
Catalina by Markus Orths (German)
Kirkus Starred Review, Sir Walter Scott Award, Golden Laurels for Best Historical Novel in 2006
"Gripping and fast-paced. Orths' narrative force and style are reminiscent of Isabel Allende, creating a literary world that has us hooked until the very last page." Buchkultur
"German writer Orths's recounting of the miraculous and ribald life of the 17th-century Basque transvestite Catalina D'Erauso proceeds with all the manic, guileful momentum of a classic picaresque. Raised primarily by her brother, Miguel, until the age of eight, Catalina's life is thrown into tumult when Miguel leaves for South America to take over the family's New World mining business. Catalina joins a convent and at the age of 16 escapes to pursue her brother, assuming the identity of a man, Francisco Loyola, to freely make her way in the world. Accompanied by the handsome Juan Bautista de Arteaga, a doctor she meets early in her adventure, Catalina, growing ever more comfortable living as a man, eventually tracks down her brother, but their reunion is far from the joyful occasion she once had hoped for. The author's and translator's enthusiasm for the material keeps nick-of-time escapes from becoming plot cheats, while tongue-in-cheek narration and action-packed episodes (Catalina has turns as a thief, soldier and cuckolder) feed the reader's urge to root for Catalina-as-Francisco." Publishers Weekly
"...a fascinating and fine story telling...a Spanish gender-bender" Kirkus
"Markus Orths once more proves himself a brilliant narrator. Sit back and enjoy this enthralling story told with passion and talent." Die Zeit
Wrestling with Angels and Other Stories by John J. Clayton
"Clayton's new stories...show a steady, assured hand, delivering an exceptional and gratifying body of work... As Clayton's early characters turn away from their idealism, his later ones turn toward a larger search for meaning and often toward the divine. (In his author's preface, Clayton writes 'I hope for Jewish and non-Jewish readers; but I speak as a Jew.') ...Clayton repeatedly explores a limited set of situations and emotions, but he is a master of his material." Publishers Weekly
"...a poignancy that comes from an intense sensitivity to the quiet suffering that most often goes unexpressed in the rush of daily life." - Kirkus Reviews
"Clayton sees his reluctant Jewish prophets as wildly lucid, drunk on spirituality in a secular world.... Writing with compassion, simplicity and power, Clayton adjusts their visions just enough so they can find the way home." - The New York Times
Crime & Mystery
Blood Alley by Tom Coffey
Publishers Weekly starred review.
"Coffey's beautifully constructed novel has stiletto-sharp prose and a heart of steel." - The Boston Globe
"This superb crime novel from Coffey will remind many readers of the hard-hitting work of James Ellroy. Sterling prose and a pulse-pounding plot combined with an authentic picture of a mob-ruled New York City make this a compelling read." - Publishers Weekly
"Blood Alley is a completely absorbing and enthralling tale. Tom Coffey doesn't miss a beat or a detail as he takes us into the brilliantly realized world of New York City circa 1940s. Coffey uses the details to create a convincing mosaic of a dark world where anything can happen." - Michael Connelly
The Scent of Blood by Raymond Miller
"A fresh new take on a classic structure - like hearing a twelvebar blues played by a great new talent." - Lee Child
"A welcome addition to the ranks of hardboiled private eyes with a softer side." - Kirkus Reviews
"Justice and suffering, guilt and regret are entwined in a plot worthy of Raymond Chandler or Ruth Rendell." - The Mystery Reader
"Raymond Miller understands the classic hardboiled detective novel...The Scent of Blood balances emotional distress, heated violence and philosophical quandaries, but still manages a breezy and light-hearted tone. Miller's having a grand time playing with the genre." - The Washington Post
"Intelligent, funny, and compassionate, this wonderful little book (220 pages) breathes new life into the PI novel...[A] rare combination of humor and depth." - Mystery Scene
"With this literate and engrossing thriller, Raymond Miller makes an impressive entrance onto the private-eye stage. If he can keep up the good work, he will certainly emerge as one of the genre's major players." - San Diego Union-Tribune
The White League by Thomas Zigal
BookSense Notable selection. Independent Mystery Booksellers Association's Killer Books Pick for February 2005. Winner of 2005 Violet Crown Award for Fiction from the Writers League of Texas
"...a page-turner with a conscience" Booklist
"...deliciously complicated." Kirkus"a remarkable achievement." James Crumley
"a gripping novel of racism, justice denied, retribution and redemption in the upper-class environs of New Orleans circa 1990.... As in any good Southern novel, present events are dictated by the past, and colorful characters from all stations of life perform both honorable and despicable acts. There's plenty of New Orleans lore...in this solidly written, adroitly plotted and satisfyingly ethics-driven tale." Publishers Weekly