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Bookish Content

Read author interviews, book reviews, excerpts, reflections on writing, and sneak peeks of upcoming releases by JWA's favorite writers.

Rachel Kadish with the Weight of Ink

Video Interview with Rachel Kadish

“What does it take for a woman to not be defeated when the whole world is telling her to sit down and mind her manners?” This is the question that Rachel Kadish, author of the 2017 National Jewish Book Award-winning historical novel of The Weight of Ink, wanted to answer when she sat down twelve years ago to write this ambitious and mesmerizing novel.

Topics: History, Fiction
The Fortunate Ones and Ellen Umansky

An Interview with Author Ellen Umansky

JWA’s June Book Club pick isThe Fortunate Ones, a debut novel by author Ellen Umansky that tells the story of two women, one an older Holocaust survivor, the other a young woman living in Los Angeles, and the stolen painting that binds them together. We talked to Umansky about intergenerational friendship, becoming a writer, and the meaning of the word “fortunate.”

Composite of Anna Solomon and Leaving Lucy Pear

Anna Solomon on History, Motherhood, and Leaving Lucy Pear

Our May Book Club pick is Leaving Lucy Pear, by Anna Solomon. This historical novel takes place in New England in the 1910s and 1920s and follows a cast of characters whose lives are transformed by a teenage girl’s decision to leave her newborn baby in a pear orchard. I spoke with Solomon about mothers, history, and why 1920s America is not so different from our country today.

Topics: Fiction
Mother of All Questions Cover

The Mother of the Mother of All Questions

The Mother of all Questions was published in 2017, and it is comprised mostly of essays written between 2014 and 2016. When Solnit wrote these essays, she didn’t know what would happen at the end of 2016, and how much disillusionment the ensuing eighteen months would bring.

Topics: Non-Fiction
Jaclyn Friedman

Video Interview with Jaclyn Friedman

Jaclyn Friedman has been researching and radicalizing the way our culture understands sex, pleasure, and women's empowerment since she was an anti-rape activist in college. Now, Friedman is one of the most powerful voices in the conversation on how we can live authentic sexual lives while existing in our country's screwed up sexual culture.

Unscrewed Close-up title image

Unscrewing Ourselves

Friedman’s book dives into the national narrative of female sexual submissiveness that’s perpetuated by our patriarchal culture. This narrative comes in the form of abstinence-only sex education, widespread toxic masculinity, and a collective reluctance to support women’s sexuality on a social and political level.

Sheryl Sandberg with Option B

Finding Strength From Our Foremothers

Like many Americans, I owe an enormous debt to my ancestors who traveled here in search of a better life. Their courage created my family’s future. And in particular, I feel a special bond to the long line of women, stretching back generations, whose boldness and sacrifices made my life possible. 

Idra Novey

From Rural Pennsylvania to Rio de Janeiro

Women didn’t show up for Saturday morning services in tailored white wool jackets or carrying an angular black handbag with a metal clasp large enough to double as a weapon. The occasion was my older sister’s bat mitzvah. Eleven years old at the time and trapped in a hand-me-down dress with built-in shoulder pads, I was transfixed.

Topics: Fiction
Composite Image of Marge Piercy with He, She and It

An Interview with Marge Piercy

We spoke with Marge Piercy’about her book He, She, and It, dystopia in 2017,what she thinks about artificial intelligence (AI), and how young activists can fight the good fight.

Topics: Fiction
Tova and The Book of Separation

Tova Mirvis’ Journey from Orthodoxy to Memoir

Tova Mirvis is the author of the recently released The Book of Separation, a memoir chronicling her growing doubts about her Orthodox faith and her ultimate decision to leave after forty years in the community.

Abigail Pogrebin (Media Object Resized)

Abigail Pogrebin On Her Jewish Year

Abigail Pogrebin was Jewish, but not that Jewish. That is, like many Jews she knew, she expressed her religion more through culture than through traditional practice. A few years ago, Pogrebin started wondering whether she was missing out on something important and decided to find out by celebrating eighteen Jewish holidays in twelve months.

"Stone Butch Blues," by Leslie Feinberg

Queer History and Stone Butch Blues

Two years ago to the month, I read Stone Butch Blues for the first time. Leslie Feinberg had made previous appearances in my life, distant traces of hir legacy filtering through references in other books and news of hir death months prior, but it wasn’t until May/June 2015 that I finally sank into Feinberg’s oeuvre and felt the force of hir most famous book.

The Beautiful Possible Book Cover

The Beautiful Possible: An Interview with Amy Gottlieb

In The Beautiful Possible, Amy Gottlieb traces the lives of rabbis and spiritual seekers who are connected in an intricate web of love and secrets, following them from the ashrams of India to the suburbs of 1950s America. JWA sat down with Gottlieb to discuss how she came to write her first novel, the influence of poetry, and how characters can surprise you.

Topics: Fiction
Clara Lemlich in a Shirtwaist, circa 1910

Writing a Revolutionary

Authors are often asked about the inspiration behind their books. Usually, that question is a tricky one to answer. But in the case of my historical novel for young adults, Audacity, it’s easy. The life of labor activist Clara Lemlich was all the inspiration I needed.

Topics: Labor, Poetry
Rebecca Traister with All the Single Ladies

Video Interview with Rebecca Traister

Single women have been around forever. Unable to find suitable partners, unwilling to marry unsuitable ones, or simply uninterested in the idea of partnering, these women were often considered social cast-offs and economic drains on society. Passed over and unobserved, they have been stereotyped as passive participants who lived on the sidelines of history. New York Times' bestselling author, Rebecca Traister's latest book works to change this flawed narrative.

Topics: Non-Fiction
Imperial Wife, Irina Reyn Composite Photo

Powerful Wives, Then and Now

I did not set out to write a historical or timely novel but I do think The Imperial Wife proved to be both. Ironically, it was only by looking back at eighteenth-century Russia, during the time of the fascinating ruler Catherine the Great, that I was able to think more deeply about the challenges facing contemporary women in America.

Topics: Fiction
A Bintel Brief Main Image

A Bintel Brief: An Interview with Liana Finck

How many ways can you tell a story? To tell hers, artist and graphic novelist Liana Finck combines history, humor, and art in her book, A Bintel Brief: Love and Longing in Old New York.

Reading is Sexy

Slut Lit: The Literary Feminist's Friend or Foe?

The Bed Moved, a new short story collection by Rebecca Schiff, features 23 stories with young female narrators. One of these women finds porn on her dead dad’s computer; another––a community college professor–– struggles with difficult, unmotivated students; still another wrestles with the question of whether to break up with a partner during a birthday trip to Boston.

Topics: Publishing
Linda Cohen, with father, in Vermont

Finding Your God's Work: The Gift of Loss

When my father died in 2006, I spent six months in a place that felt unbalanced, out of sync, and unsettled. I needed to sit with the feelings I was having and be present with the opportunity that grief had offered me.  It's baffling to me that today an entire decade has passed since my father's death. The journey and life lessons that have come from this loss, and other losses since, have forever changed me.

Topics: Memoirs
Treyf: My Life as an Unorthodox Outlaw Book Cover

A Pious Longing

It was a compulsion, a need, a desire so thick that it coated my tongue like halvah; even now, at moments when I least expect it, it creeps up on me and demands my attention, my need for acknowledgement as the pious woman I like to believe I am.     

Topics: Memoirs
Grandmother with Granddaughter

The Sandwich Generation: An Interview with Author Iris Waichler

Recently, the Pew Research Center has found that in 2013, 47% of adults, ages 40-59, had both a parent who was sixty-five or older and children they were still financially supporting. This group, called the “Sandwich Generation,” will only grow larger as people live longer and have children later.  The responsibility of taking care of elderly parents often falls on daughters who are also mothers and professionals.

Topics: Mothers
The Little Bride by Anna Solomon

Book Review: The Little Bride

Through evocative rendering of a little-known chapter in Jewish-American history, Anna Solomon’s novel The Little Bride takes us from Eastern Europe to the American West in the story of Minna, a 19th-century “mail order bride.”

Joy Ladin and Lesléa Newman

Identity Poetics: An Afternoon with Joy Ladin and Lesléa Newman

On a sunny but cold Sunday in Boston, poets Joy Ladin and Lesléa Newman spoke at a JWA-sponsored event about their newly released collections of poetry, Ladin’s Impersonation and Newman’s I Carry My Mother

Alix Kates Shulman

An Interview with Alix Kates Shulman

In 1972, founding second-wave feminist Alix Kates Shulman published her bestselling debut novel, Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen. Following a young midwestern Jewish woman named Sasha Davis, Prom Queen bears witness to the exhausting, invasive, and often violent experience of becoming a woman, and is widely identified as the first important novel to emerge from the Women's Liberation Movement.

Topics: Writing
Judy Batalion

An Interview with "White Walls" Author Judy Batalion

A scholar, writer, and comedian, Judy Batalion has a knack for finding the humor in family. As the daughter and granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, Batalion grew up in Montreal with her parents, a younger brother, and a house that was overflowing and chaotic with the results of her mother’s aggressive collecting. With insight and kindness, Batalion's book traces her messy origins, the complicated relationship between being a daughter and mother, and how to live with humor and authenticity in the world, and within our families.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Bookish Content." (Viewed on July 23, 2018) <https://jwa.org/programs/bookclub/bookish-content>.

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