Book Group Reads Englander

The B’nai Emunah book group recently met to discuss the collection of short stories
by Nathan Englander, What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank.  The book is titled after Raymond Carver’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.  Englander’s eight short stories reflect both contemporary life in the U.S. as well as a more historical time in Israel.  Through our discussion of four of the stories:  the title story, “What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank” (set in Miami); “Sister Hills” (set in southern Israel from the time of the 1973 Yom Kippur war to the present); “Camp Sundown” (set in a senior summer camp in the Poconos);   and “Fruit for Young Widows” (set in Jerusalem with flashbacks to earlier times), we shared our likes and dislikes for some of the characters, as well as Englander’s superb writing.  Some of the themes that we felt the stories illuminated are trust/distrust; obsessions with the past, particularly the Holocaust; the human capacity for evil and revenge; love and loss; and anti-Semitism.
As just one example of how masterful Englander’s writing can be, “Sister Hills,” managed to trace the development of a settlement in the Occupied Territories at four points in history: 1973, 1987, 2000 and 2011, while portraying two characters in depth along with portraying a subtle background of discrimination.  The founding mothers of the settlement are the central characters, and their conflict about a long ago agreement/contract illustrates the depth of grief and revenge that one of the women experiences.  One critic compares the story to a parable, “with echoes of Tolstoy’s late fables.”
Our next book to read and discuss is by the Israeli author Amos Oz, A Perfect Peace, which is set on a kibbutz in Israel 1965.  According to one critic “highlights the socio-political conflicts within the Israeli population, counterpointing the ideological tensions with domestic strain and sexual ambivalence.  Come and join us on March 10th.   Contact Bonnie for location and time.

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This entry was posted in Book Discussion Group, Congregation News, Interfaith Event, Jewish Learning, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Book Group Reads Englander

  1. Pingback: “Write what you know” – Nathan Englander on Misunderstood Advice | Ledia Runnels' "Writing Tips"

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