Tag: non-fiction

Review: “The Juggler’s Children,” by Carolyn Abraham

The late eminent American genealogist Rabbi Malcolm Stern once observed that there is nothing so fascinating to a person as his own genealogical research, and often, nothing so boring as being stuck at a dinner table with a family-tree enthusiast who insists upon endlessly discussing their latest research. With her recent book The Juggler’s Children:…

An 1839 travelogue through the Jewish world

In the year 1839, had you been a traveller along the road from Rzeszov to Cracow, you would have been obliged to show a passport in Podgorze, the suburb of Cracow on the Austrian side of the Vistula (“Weichsel”) River. After submitting to a cursory inspection from Austrian officials, your vehicle would have crossed the…

Devil in the White City: Murder & Chicago World’s Fair, 1893

In this riveting page-turner that reads like a murder mystery thriller, Erik Larson resurrects the legend of a forgotten American psychopathic mass murderer, the cold-blooded H. H. Holmes, and overlays it atop the equally dusty story of the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893, one of the most impressive achievements of gilded-age America. Satisfying the modern…

Fine telling of the Reichmann saga

◊ In light of the passing of Paul Reichmann in Toronto on Friday October 25 at age 83, we bring your attention to this review of the most thorough biography of the Reichman family, Anthony Bianco’s The Reichmanns: Family, Faith, Fortune and The Empire of Olympia & York.  As Brooklyn-based author Anthony Bianco chronicles in his…

Review: Joseph Anton, A Memoir, by Salman Rushdie

From the Canadian Jewish News, January 2013 London-based writer Salman Rushdie was happy to sell his novel The Satanic Verses to Viking Penguin in February 1988. But six months after the novel appeared, the Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against him for his blasphemous insult “against Islam, the Prophet and the Qur’an.” Instantly he became…

Book reviews: Holocaust memoir & near-future fiction

From the Canadian Jewish News, April 2013 Some Girls, Some Hats and Hitler, by Trudi Kanter In a voice as fresh, direct and charming as Sylvia Plath’s, the late writer Trudi Kanter tells the story of her journey through war-torn Europe, seeking safe haven for herself and her beloved Walter, two Austrian Jews hoping to…

New book offers pieces by Kayfetz, Speisman on Toronto Jews

Toronto publisher Now and Then Books’s latest title — Only Yesterday: Collected Pieces on the Jews of Toronto, by Benjamin Kayfetz and Stephen A. Speisman — is a prolifically illustrated book featuring 18 evocative articles by two notable historians of Toronto’s Jewish community. Culled from a variety of sources, the pieces in Only Yesterday focus…

Review: Annie Dillard’s For the Time Being

From the Canadian Jewish News, ca 2001 For The Time Being (Knopf, $22) is Annie Dillard’s personal meditation on eternity, morality, mortality, the nature of divine justice and other philosophical issues. The book is a spiralling intellectual investigation that moves from the birth ward of a modern hospital to an archaeological dig in China to…

Book reviews: a police procedural and a medical procedural

With the Eaton Centre and Scarborough block party shootings in Toronto, and the Dark Knight and Sikh Temple shootings in Colorado and Wisconsin, gun crimes have been screaming from the headlines all summer. Seems a perfect time, then, to look at Robert Rotenberg’s third police procedural crime novel, Stray Bullets. As he demonstrated in his…

Nine books celebrated at Canadian Jewish Book Awards

Eli Pfefferkorn says he was walking in the park one day, thinking about the story he had been longing to tell, when suddenly he experienced a rare and startling revelation. “I found the voice,” he said. “One day, one morning, I heard the voice from inside coming . . . a voice I had not…