Sandee is the arts and culture editor at the Jewish Week.


‘Diary of the Fall” by Michel Laub (Other Press) is a literary novel exploring memory and history, as a young man who is the grandson of a Holocaust survivor and the son of a father suffering from Alzheimer’s looks back at a mistake in his own past, searching for forgiveness. Laub was named one of Granta’s Best Young Brazilian Novelists. (September)

“The Betrayers” by David Bezmozgis (Little, Brown) is the story of an event-filled day in the life of a Soviet Jewish dissident turned Israeli politician, who escapes to the Crimean resort of Yalta when some misdeeds are exposed. There, he encounters a former friend who had denounced him, and must come to terms with being betrayed — and betraying others close to him. (September)

Jonathan Kellerman collaborates with his son Jesse Kellerman on “The Golem of Hollywood” (Putnam), a suspense novel that leads a Jewish detective with the LAPD from Los Angeles to Prague to solve a baffling murder in the Hollywood hills, where there is no body, but a Hebrew word burnt into the kitchen counter. This book is the first in a series. (September)

Another member of the Kellerman family pens “Murder 101” (William Morrow). This is the latest in Faye Kellerman’s Decker/Lazarus series, featuring a Jewish detective and his Orthodox wife, who have now relocated from Los Angeles to a college town in upstate New York, where she gets involved with the local Hillel and he is pulled into a murder case. (September)

“The Mathematician’s Shiva” by Stuart Rojstaczer (Penguin) is a comic first novel — laced with complex math, Yiddish and Polish — written by a geophysicist. After the death of a brilliant Polish émigré mathematician, her colleagues crash the shiva to find her solution to a mathematical puzzle with a million-dollar prize attached. (September)

Populated with characters from the Talmud and based on extensive research, Maggie Anton’s “Enchantress” (Plume) is the story of Hisdadukh, the daughter of Rav Hisda, a practitioner of mystical, magical arts that involve incantations and demons. (September)

“The Zone of Interest” by Martin Amis (Knopf) is an unlikely love story set in a concentration camp. (September)

A collection of new stories, “Tel Aviv Noir,” edited by Etgar Keret and Assaf Gavron (Akashic), includes short literary works set in the shadows of the White City, that, as Keret explains, “reveal the concealed, scarred face of this city that we love so much.” With stories by Keret and Assaf, as well as by Shimon Adaf, Alex Epstein, Julia Fermentto, Antonio Ungar and others, translated by Yardenne Greenspan. (October)

Gina Nahai’s “The Luminous Heart of Jonah S” (Akashic) is a family saga set in the close-knit Iranian-Jewish community in Los Angeles, with reflections back to life in Iran; it’s a novel of immigration, exile, identity, with a mystery at its heart. (October)

A first novel, “The Goddess of Small Victories” by Yannick Grannec (Other Press), captures the era of Vienna under the Nazis and Princeton just after the war. A young translator, the daughter of mathematicians, is given the task of befriending the widow of mathematician Kurt Godel to release his papers, and along the way, she learns of the life of Adele and the story of her marriage to Godel.

“Down Under” by Sonia Taitz (McWitty Press) is a love story of a couple from different backgrounds — she’s Jewish, he’s Catholic — who meet as teens and then again much later in life, when she is living in the suburbs and he’s an Australian film star, with anti-Semitic leanings.

From the author of the mega-selling “The Red Tent,” Anita Diamant’s “The Boston Girl” (Scribner) is a novel told in the first person, as an 85-year-old grandmother looks back on the life she created — from an immigrant background in Boston’s North End to her success in career and in love — in response to a question from her granddaughter. (December)

A new thriller by the bestselling novelist who is thought to be Israel’s leading crime writer (and a practicing attorney) “Asylum City” by Liad Shoham (Harper) is set in the world of asylum seekers in Tel Aviv. When a volunteer aid worker is murdered, the lead detective, a woman, senses that something’s not quite right when an African refugee confesses to the crime. (December)


In “Thirteen Days in September: Carter, Begin and Sadat at Camp David” (Knopf), Pulitzer Prize-winning author Lawrence Wright provides a day-by-day account of the 1978 Camp David conference, based, in part, on extensive interviews with President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn. That peace treaty — the first in the modern Middle East — endures. (September)

“Not Fade Away: A Memoir of Senses Lost and Found” by Rebecca Alexander (Gotham Books) is the powerful memoir of a young woman slowly losing her sight and hearing because of Usher Syndrome III, a rare disorder. Now 34, Alexander is a psychotherapist, athlete and volunteer; she writes candidly, with no self-pity, about the disease’s progression, current research into a cure, the challenges in her life and gratitude for the beauty she has experienced.

A collection of essays culled from four decades of work, Daphne Merkin’s “The Fame Lunches: On Wounded Icons, Money, Sex, the Brontes, and the Importance of Handbags” (Farrar Straus Giroux) include her reflections — always filled with remarkable candor and insight — on many subjects, from literary profiles to her Orthodox background. (September)

“Leonard Bernstein: American Musician” by Allen Shawn (Yale), a new volume in the Jewish Lives series, integrates the composer’s life and music. Shawn focuses on the tremendous range of Bernstein’s compositions and his public role as a celebrated conductor. (September)

A memoir, Sarah Wildman’s “Paper Love: Searching for the Girl My Grandfather Left Behind” (Riverhead) details many discoveries that grew out of Wildman’s search for a woman whose photo and letters she found in her grandfather’s files — this was the girlfriend he left behind when he fled Vienna in 1938. She also discovered others searching for the same woman. (October)

In “Hitler’s First Victims: The Beginning of the Holocaust” (Knopf), Timothy W. Ryback provides a historical narrative of the first killing by SS guards at Dachau in 1933 and the investigations that followed. He tells the story of Josef Hartinger, the local Munich prosecutor who took great risks to try to bring these first killers to justice. His evidence was later presented at the Nuremberg trials. (October)

Joseph Berger’s “The Pious Ones” (HarperCollins) is the veteran New York Times reporter’s skillful observations of the Orthodox community, one that he has covered for decades, with portraits of leading personalities, analysis of recent controversies and a view of faith and daily life. (October)

“A Voice Still Heard: Selected Essays of Irving Howe,” edited by Nina Howe (Yale), features a foreword by Morris Dickstein followed by 16 essays on politics, literature, culture and Judaism by the literary giant, political critic and public intellectual who died in 1993. (October)

“A Backpack, a Bear, and Eight Crates of Vodka” by Lev Golinkin (Doubleday) is a darkly comic memoir of growing up in Ukraine in the 1980s. At age 9, he and his family fled to Austria and then the U.S. Here, he also tells the story of his return, 17 years later as an American, spending two years tracking down the many people who aided his escape. (November)

“The Rag Race: How Jews Sewed Their Way To Success in America and the British Empire” (NYU Press) traces the involvement of Jewish immigrants in the shmatte (rag) business, and draws connections between that involvement and the economic ascent of Jews in America. The author, Adam D. Mendelsohn, is a professor of Jewish studies at the College of Charleston, and director of the Pearlstine/Lipov Center for Southern Jewish Culture. (December)

“Becoming Un-Orthodox: Stories of Ex-Hasidic Jews” by Lynn Davidman (Oxford University Press) is based on conversations with 40 individuals who left their chasidic worlds in America and shared their often painful stories. The author, now a professor of Jewish studies at the University of Kansas, also writers personally, as she lost her faith as a teenager and was cast out from her Orthodox family and friends.

A biography, “Herzl’s Vision: Theodor Herzl and the Foundation of the Jewish State” by Shlomo Avineri (BlueBridge) draws on the Zionist leader’s diaries and published works, following his political and spiritual journey to become an international figure. (December)