People of the Book
Date: Monday, December 11, 2017
Time: 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Location: Adult Reading Room of the RAMBAM Center
Contact: Judith Davidoff, email@example.com, 305.665.0012
People of the Book Club is for women who like to read and talk about ideas. We focus on books with some Jewish content and/or whose author is Jewish. Fiction or non-fiction, older books or contemporary ones, even some combination of shorter works (for example, essays, short stories, journalism) — all are chosen to spur serious discussion of the works’ literary qualities (if fiction), and about their Jewish themes, social issues, moral and ethical controversies, and the like.
Dinner at the Center of the Earth
by Nathan Englander
Monday, December 11, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Adult Reading Room of the RAMBAM Center
Nathan Englander’s second novel Dinner at the Center of the Earth (2017) is about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Englander divides the action between 2002 and 2014, and dramatizes, in a most unusual way, the immense moral ambiguities that haunt both sides. The novel’s mix of genres set this fascinating work apart. In a New York Times interview, the author described it as having “a Turducken of a structure: it’s a literary novel inside a spy thriller that’s inside a love story—a love story that’s tucked inside an allegory.” One reviewer called it “Le Carré in a yarmulke.” But it’s much more than that. As the author switches times and genres, he also switches mood and tone. As a New York Times reviewer put it, “such radical shifts ... allow him the latitude to do what he’s always done best, in story after indelible story: depict individuals in their quixotic attempts to hang onto conscience, identity and hope while history tries to pry loose their tenuous grasp.”
As The Writers’ Workshop (the author is an alum) wrote: “Englander has built a complex structure, by which his narrative reveals itself in pieces, and the less we know in advance, the more vividly we feel its turns [emphasis mine].” I strongly urge you read the novel BEFORE you read any reviews or plot summaries (even on Amazon.com or the book jacket)!
The novel (272 pages) is a quick read; I expect us to have a lively discussion.
Nathan Englander has won the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He established his reputation with his first short story collection For the Relief of Unbearable Urges; his short fiction has been widely anthologized, most recently in 100 Years of the Best American Short Stories. He translated the Hebrew of Jonathan Safran Foer’s New American Haggadah. He is Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at New York University.
We hope you'll be intrigued and will join us. RSVP to Judith Davidoff, firstname.lastname@example.org, 305.665.0012.