One standout among the many featured authors at this year’s Book Expo America at the Javits Center last week was the late Italian chemist and writer Primo Levi, who died in 1987 and is best known for his memoirs of surviving Auschwitz, “If This Is a Man” and “The Periodic Table.”
In the fall, Liveright Books is publishing “The Complete Words of Primo Levi,” a boxed three-volume collection that showcases his lyrical writing beyond his memoirs, with poetry, essays and fiction, most of it newly translated from the Italian and some pieces available in English for the first time.
Nobel laureate Toni Morrison contributes the introduction to the work. “The triumph of human identity and worth over the pathology of human destruction glows everywhere in Levi’s writing,” she writes.
For Robert Weil, editor-in-chief of Liveright, a division of Norton, this is the most ambitious project of his publishing career. “The Complete Works of Primo Levi” has been in the works for the last 17 years, as he secured permissions and engaged Ann Goldstein, an award-winning translator and an editor at The New Yorker, who commissioned new translations and edited the three volumes.
“I just think Levi should be read by everyone,” Weil said.
“The Complete Words of Primo Levi,” to be published in September, was introduced at BEA, the largest gathering of booksellers, publishers, librarians and other literary professionals in North America.
Other books to watch for this fall include Harold Kushner’s “Nine Essential Things I’ve Learned About Life” (Knopf), lessons distilled from the sum of his teaching, rabbinate and life experience.
Pulitzer-prize winning novelist Geraldine Brooks writes of King David in her new novel, “The Secret Chord” (Viking).
Jewish Week columnist Erica Brown presents wise commentary in “Take Your Soul to Work: 365 Meditations on Every Day Leadership” (Simon & Schuster).
Cookbook enthusiasts will be pleased to uncover a new volume of recipes from Yotam Ottolenghi, “The Nopi Cookbook” (Ten Speed Press), featuring the recipes of his London restaurant, written with head chef Ramael Scully. A first cookbook is due from the James Beard award winner Michael Solomonov of Philadelphia, Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking” (Harcourt Houghton Mifflin)
And there are at least two more stories of ex-Chasidim, “Here and There, Leaving Chasidism, Keeping My Family” by Chaya Deitsch (Schocken) and “Uncovered: How I Left Hasidic Life and Finally Came Home” by Leah Lax (She Writes Press).