Our annual compilation of page turners offers more than 60 recent titles — all with a Jewish connection.
■ Sara Itzig Levy, the daughter of Frederick the Great’s banker, is gifted the manuscript of an anti-Jewish cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach’s son, her harpsichord teacher. In the ruins of 1945 Germany, an American soldier takes the manuscript, a souvenir from a seemingly empty mansion. The soldier’s niece, Susanna, finds the manuscript and sets out to find its rightful owner. Author Lauren Belfer (A Fierce Radiance) weaves the stories of Susanna and Sara together in And After the Fire (HarperCollins), which seamlessly traverses more than 200 years of history, from the glittering salons of the 18th century through the Holocaust to today.
■ Anna and the Swallow Man (Alfred A. Knopf) is a debut novel by Gavriel Savit, who holds a BFA in musical theater from the U-M in Ann Arbor, where he grew up. Savit likens his book to “a fairy tale set in Poland during the 1930s and 1940s that follows a young girl, Anna, as she struggles to grow up and stay safe in a world at war. Left without her parents at a very vulnerable age, Anna meets the Swallow Man, a skilled deceiver with very long fingers and very deep eyes who teaches her the ways of the dangerous world. Together they do their best to survive unharmed.” Billed for ages 12 and up, Anna will haunt readers of all ages.
■ A Ukranian exchange student and the coddled son of Russian immigrants become parents to Max, adopted from two teenagers in Montana, in Don’t let My Baby Do Rodeo (Harper), by Boris Fishman. When teenaged Max becomes wild, the parents leave their suburban New Jersey lifestyle in search of his birth parents.
■ Fat Chance (Quid Pro Books) by Aviva Orenstein is a first novel by a writer who has had a successful career as a law professor who comes from a family of rabbis. Set in a suburban Jewish community, Orenstein’s heroine is a single mother with a great job and a quirky sense of humor. As she’s dealing with the loss of her father, her difficult teenage son and always struggling with her weight, she finds her way to better times, to feeling newly comfortable, as she says, in her ample skin.
■ Good on Paper (Melville House) by Rachel Cantor is a splendid novel about family, friendship and identity. For Shira Greene, everything changes with a telegram: She is a single mother living with her daughter and a gay friend, a translator with a career that feels stalled as she works temporary jobs wherever she finds them. A Nobel-prize winning Romanian-born Italian poet asks her to translate his new book, which turns out to be a puzzling mix of prose and poetry. Cantor’s own mastery of language makes for great reading.
■ In her debut collection, author Helen Maryles Shankman links stories set in a German-occupied town in Poland. Blending folklore and fact, In the Land of Armadillos: Stories (Scribner) illuminates the unfathomable experiences of both the victims and the perpetrators of violence at the height of the Nazi regime. One example: A cold-blooded SS officer is obsessed with rescuing the creator of his son’s favorite picture book even as he sends the artist’s friends and family to their deaths.
■ Mike Greenberg, cohost of ESPN’s Mike and Mike, has created a character worth rooting for in Jonathan Sweetwater — smart, sensitive and devoted to his wife and children. In My Father’s Wives (William Morrow), we see Sweetwater’s seemingly perfect life fall apart, his journey to put it back together and understand the relationship he never had with his father.
■ Piece of Mind (Norton) by Michelle Adelman is a debut novel full of charm and warmth. The main character is Lucy, 27, who was hit by a truck at age 3, resulting in a traumatic brain injury. She lives an unconventional life at home with her father, who does everything for her — cooks, drives, makes sure she’s dressed and has finished simple tasks. When her father dies, her life is totally unmoored. She moves to New York City to live with her brother Nate, 21, who is ill-equipped to meet the challenge. It is Lucy who does so. Drawing on the experience of her own sister Caren, who suffered a brain injury at a young age, Adelman deftly recognizes the intricacies of brain injury and, with heart-felt emotion, creates Lucy as a fully realized protagonist.
■ Arlene Heyman’s stories were written over a period of 30 years, beginning when she was a student of Bernard Malamud’s at Bennington College. In her debut collection, Scary Old Sex (Bloomsbury), Heyman, a psychiatrist, looks deeply and knowingly into the messiness of lives — complex relationships, intimacy, aging and sex, and what is often unspoken. Many of her characters are older women. Her story “In Love With Murray” is dedicated to Malamud’s memory.
■ Former Detroiter Linda Kass’ debut novel, Tasa’s Song (She Writes Press), was inspired by events from her mother’s life. The main character is a gifted young Jewish violinist who returns to her native home in Poland to find her family has been targeted by the Soviets and her family estate is now in German hands. With no safe place, she turns to her new love interest and her music to survive. As danger mounts, her family finally flees to a friend’s underground bunker. Throughout the story, Kass writes about the bonds of love, the power of memory, the solace of music and the strength of the human spirit.
■ The Beautiful Possible (Harper) by Amy Gottlieb is a first novel about faith and ideas, love and loss, that unfolds with insight. Gottlieb writes of a rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary, his fiance and his study partner, a German refugee who lost his family and spent the war years in India, and their triangular connections over time. Questions of Jewish thought are woven seamlessly into the story.
■ The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem (Thomas Dunne Book-St. Martin’s Press), by Sarit Yishai-Levi, has become a No. 1 international bestseller. Set in the Golden Age of Hollywood, the dark days of WWII and the swinging 1970s, it is about mothers and daughters, stories told and untold and the ties that bind four generations of women. The rich history of Jerusalem is more than just a backdrop to this story — it shapes the lives of the characters who inhabit it, for better or worse. The author’s own family history inspired this debut novel and the writing process helped heal old wounds.
■ Winner of the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature, Israeli Ayelet Tsabari’s debut collection of 11 tales, The Best Place on Earth: Stories (Random House), daringly takes on the complexities of Israeli life and its diaspora. Called by some a “complicated love song to Israel,” the stories often focus on Israel’s Mizrahi Jews searching for their place in the world. The stories are global in scope yet intimate in feel, beautifully written and emotionally powerful.
■ In The Book of Esther: A Novel (Tim Duggan Books), Emily Barton (Brookland) reimagines some of history’s darkest period. On the steppes between the Black and Caspian seas, Esther seeks a fabled village of kabbalists who can change her into a man so that she can save her nation’s existence from the Nazi threat. In the style of Cynthia Ozick and Italo Calvino, Barton invents an otherworldly uprising with a Jewish Joan of Arc at the center of it.
■ The Chosen Ones: A Novel (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) takes place inside Am Spiegelgrund, a children’s clinic in Vienna where hundreds of children were killed under the Nazi Regime Children’s Euthanasia Program. Focusing on a child inmate and a nurse, author Steve Sem-Sandberg (The Emperor of Lies) brings readers into the experiences of the abusers and the abused as they undertake daily rituals of psychological and physical torment.
■ The Devil in Jerusalem (St. Martin’s Press) is the eighth novel by Naomi Ragen, an American who has lived in Israel for the last 40 years and has been voted one of the three most popular authors in Israel. This novel is inspired by the true story of a man who started a dark, secret sect in Israel and corrupted a young Orthodox family. Two children are admitted to Hadassah Hospital with terrible injuries; their mother, a young American heiress, recites psalms and refuses to answer questions. The story follows Detective Bina Tzedek as she unravels the mystery by encountering kabbalists, mystical ancient texts and horrifying cult rituals.
■ The title of Brenda Janowitz’s new novel, The Dinner Party (St. Martin’s), refers to a suburban Passover seder — peopled with two sets of potential in-laws, including a family of Rothschilds — that is indeed different from every other night. The holiday’s themes of freedom and letting go relate to the characters’ struggles.
■ On June 19, 1953, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg became the only Americans to be put to death for spying during the Cold War. The day Ethel was arrested, she left her two young sons with a neighbor and never came back. In The Hours Count (Riverhead), Jillian Cantor (Margot) weaves fact with fiction by creating the story of a fictional neighbor, Millie Stein. Knowing the Rosenbergs as an ordinary-seeming Jewish couple, Stein is thrown into a world of lies, betrayal, spies and counterspies.
■ Told with compassion, The Houseguest (Counterpoint) by Kim Brooks, a vibrant debut novel, is set during the Holocaust, all around America. At the outset, a rabbi in Utica, N.Y., convinces a local junk dealer and his family to take in a European refugee, the volatile and charming actress of the book’s title. As the characters feel the war approaching their own lives, they reach out in their own ways to fight.
■ Set against the backdrop of a starry cast of characters, including Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner and Eleanor Roosevelt, The Muralist: A Novel (Algonquin Books), by B.A. Shapiro (The Art Forger) tells of a young American painter working for the Works Progress Administration. Inspired by historical events during the Roosevelt administration, The Muralist follows the protagonist as she works to define herself as an abstract artist, tries to obtain visas for her Jewish family living in German-occupied France — then suddenly vanishes in New York City in 1940.
■ Author Edward Lewis Wallant, compared to other Jewish American writers such as Saul Bellow and Philip Roth, died one year after The Pawnbroker (Fig Tree Books) was originally published in 1961. One of the first American novels to deal with the lingering trauma of the Holocaust — and inspired Sidney Lumet’s 1965 film of the same name, which was the first American movie to deal with the Holocaust from a survivor’s perspective, depicting the Nazi extermination camps as evoked in Nazerman the protagonist’s nightmarish memories. Set in Harlem, The Pawnbroker, now reissued in a new edition, explores the fraught relationships between Jews and other American minorities.
■ Set in 1950s Brooklyn, The Two-Family House (St. Martin’s) by Lynda Cohen Loigman is the story of two women and the two children to whom they give birth, two minutes apart in a 1947 blizzard, in the house their families share. The two mothers are married to a pair of brothers, and the novel follows their entangled lives. This sparkling debut novel is inspired by stories the author heard in her childhood.
■ Called a “modern-day Jewish Jane Austen” by reviewer Leah Rozen in People magazine, Cathleen Schine (whose ex-husband is New Yorker film critic David Denby) writes a funny novel about aging, family, loneliness and love in They May Not Mean to, But They Do (Sarah Crichton Books/FSG). When Joy’s beloved husband dies, her adult children did not count on the reappearance of a suitor from her college days and on Joy herself to become as suddenly willful and rebellious as their own kids.
■ From the Yiddish for “choked with emotion,” Verklempt (Doppel House Press), by Austrian journalist and former politician Peter Sichrovsky, is a collection of darkly humorous, often absurd and almost always touching Jewish-themed short stories.
■ Reed Farrel Coleman, who once said, “I have a great Irish name, though I’m of Ukrainian Jewish heritage,” is the creator of the acclaimed Moe Prager crime novels featuring a Jewish ex-cop in 1980s New York. In Where It Hurts (G.P Putnam’s Sons), Coleman introduces Gus Murphy, another middle-aged cop, in a book that is both a crime story and a meditation on grief and loss.
■ In 1944: FDR and the Year that Changed History (Simon & Schuster), the last full year of WWII is given the attention it deserves by public historian Jay Winik, who brings drama, power and passion to telling the story of this fateful year. He brings to life the drama and horror while giving the reader a new appreciation of both the triumphs and failings of the leaders involved. He vividly describes the horrors of the Holocaust and doesn’t hold back with charging FDR with willful negligence in not confronting them.
■ In Charlie Mike, A True Story of Heroes Who Brought Their Mission Home (Simon & Schuster), award-winning journalist Joe Klein (author of Primary Colors) puts the focus on America’s “new greatest generation” through the triumphant story of two decorated combat veterans, linked by tragedy, who return from the battlefield and use their military skills to lead others in new and inspiring ways. Both men eventually founded powerful charitable organizations, the Mission Continues and Team Rubicon, and help their fellow veterans find a sense of purpose. Klein shows us how the military virtues of discipline and selflessness can provide a path to peace, personal satisfaction and a more vigorous nation.
■ On March 29, 1516, the city council of Venice issued a decree forcing Jews to live in il geto — a closed quarter named for the copper foundry that once occupied the area. Ghetto: The Invention of a Place, the History of an Idea (Farrar Straus Giroux) is sociologist and author Mitchell Duneier’s riveting account of how the name stuck. Tracing the idea of the ghetto — and the scholars and activists who wrestled with race and poverty in their own efforts — from its 16th-century origins, its revival by the Nazis, to the black American ghetto.
■ An illustrated history, New York’s Yiddish Theater: From the Bowery to Broadway (Columbia University Press), edited by Edna Nahshon, covers many genres and productions, artists and audiences; the impact of Yiddish theater on Jewish immigrants and on American culture. This volume accompanies an exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York.
■ The Lost Book of Moses by Chanan Tigay (Ecco) is a historical drama going back to 1883, when a Polish-born British antiquities dealer claimed to have discovered the oldest copy of the Bible, which then mysteriously vanished. The author searches around the world for clues, uncovering romance and tragedy along with truth.
■ East West Street (Alfred A. Knopf), a moving personal detective story, begins when author Philippe Sands, an international lawyer, accepts an invitation to lecture at Lviv University — with the intent of learning about the city, home to his maternal grandfather before the war. While there, Sands explores the personal and intellectual evolution of the two men who simultaneously originated the ideas of “genocide” and “crimes against humanity.”
■ In In Those Nightmarish Days: The Ghetto Reportage of Peretz Opoczynski and Josef Zelkowicz (Yale University Press), editors Samuel D. Kasow and David Suchoff provide the powerful accounts of daily life in the Warsaw and Lodz ghettos of two Yiddish journalists who ultimately died in the Holocaust. Their frightening words fill 300 pages, including the Sept. 6, 1942, account of when 22 Jews were executed, “their hanging bodies swaying wantonly like twenty-two leaves fluttering from a withered branch.”
■ In The Anatomy of Malice: The Enigma of the Nazi War Criminals (Yale), professor of psychology Joel E. Dimsdale examines four war criminals — Ley, Goring, Streicher and Hess — and asks whether they were fundamentally like other people or fundamentally different.
■ “It’s a lie that Poles killed the Jews in Jedwabne,” says Tadeusz S., a retired doctor from Warsaw. Though an eyewitness, he was one of many to cover up the events of July 10, 1941, a day when residents of the Polish town herded local Jews into a barn and set it on fire, murdering 1,600 men, women and children. The Crime and the Silence: Confronting the Massacre of Jews in Wartime Jedwabne (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) by Polish journalist Anna Bikont, is an astonishing act of investigation and documentation in the face of lies, denial and massive indifference.
■ The Nazi Hunters (Simon & Schuster) by Andrew Nagorski focuses on the men and women who worked to track down Nazi war criminals and bring them to justice, as the era of being able to do so is coming to a close.
■ Once loyal Hitler Youth participants, brother and sister Hans and Sophie Scholl became founding members of the White Rose, a group of students in Nazi Germany appalled by Hitler’s mass slaughter of German citizens and determined to resist his regime at any cost. With archival photos and a thoroughly researched and well-told story, Newbery Honor winner Russell Freedman details the beginning of the movement and the lives of its members in We Will Not Be Silent: The White Rose Student Resistance Movement that Defied Adolf Hitler (Clarion Books).
■ In the 1970s Florida suburbs, kids ran free, riding bikes and disappearing into the nearby woods for hours at a time. One morning in 1973, Jon Kushner biked through the forest to a local convenience story for candy and never came back. His younger brother, David Kushner, an award-winning contributor to Rolling Stone, the New Yorker, Vanity Fair and more, tells the story of his brother’s kidnaping, murder — and how a family survives an unthinkable tragedy — in Alligator Candy: A Memoir (Simon & Schuster).
■ Another title in the Jewish Lives series, Barbra Streisand: Redefining Beauty, Femininity and Power by Neal Gabler (Yale University Press) probes the life and career of the performer and cultural icon, the metaphor of “Streisand” and the relationship of Jewishness and popular culture.
■ Growing up in a tight-knit Christian family, Alison Pick went to church weekly. But as a teenager, she discovered that her paternal grandparents fled from the Czechoslovakia at the start of WWII because they were Jewish and lived their new lives as Christians; other family members who hesitated to leave were deported to Auschwitz. In Between Gods: A Memoir (HarperPerennial), Pick writes of her fall into depression and emptiness, her draw to the Jewish community and how entering the conversion process opened old wounds and nearly ripped apart her family.
■ A brief, unforgettable memoir that was a bestseller in France, But You Did Not Come Back (Atlantic Monthly Press) by Marceline Lordan-Ivens, translated by Sandra Smith, is addressed to the author’s late father. When she was 15, she and her father were arrested in occupied France and he managed to send her a note when they were separated at concentration camps. She survived, but he did not, and she has said that his death overshadowed all of her life. The author, an actress, screenwriter, director and activist, can see the note and its slated script, but doesn’t remember the exact words, only that it probably spoke of hope, and arrived too late.
■ In Casting Lots: Creating a Family in a Beautiful, Broken World (Da Capo), Susan Silverman begins her memoir by chronicling her early life with her parents and siblings (she is the sister of comedian Sarah Silverman), and goes on to describe her own marriage and efforts to expand her family with the adoption of two children from Ethiopia. A Jerusalem-based rabbi, Silverman is an outspoken advocate for adoption.
■ The only British prime minister of Jewish birth, Benjamin Disraeli was lauded as a “great Jew” — he boasted of Jewish achievements and argued for Jewish civil rights. In Disraeli: The Novel Politician (Yale University Press), historian David Cesarani challenges whether Disraeli cared about Jewish issues, instead creating a myth of aristocratic Jewish origins to boost his career while also contributing to the consolidation of some of the most fundamental stereotypes of modern anti-Semitism.
■ Born and raised in Brooklyn, George Braziller is among the leaders of American independent publishing, founding the house bearing his name that specializes in literary fiction, poetry and nonfiction. In Encounters: My Life in Publishing (Braziller), Braziller brings to life old Jewish East New York. He takes readers though Depression-era Brooklyn, his political awakening and activism, friendships with Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe, publisher of Orhan Pamuk, Jean-Paul Sartre and encounters with Marc Chagall, Pablo Picasso and more.
■ Born in 1874 to Polish immigrants, Freeman Bernstein was a New York-born Jew, a vaudeville manager, boxing promoter, stock swindler, card shark and self-proclaimed “Jade King of China.” He was also arrested by the LAPD outside Mae West’s Hollywood apartment on charges of grand larceny for cheating Adolph Hitler and the Nazi government out of 35 tons of embargoed Canadian nickel. In Hustling Hitler! The Jewish Vaudevillian Who Fooled the Fuhrer (Blue Rider Press), journalist Walter Shapiro writes in easy narrative that naturally evokes Bernstein’s colorful world about the Jew who may have been responsible for a critical shortage of Nazi resources.
■ When the war began, Irene Gut was a 17-year-old nurse, a Polish patriot, a good Catholic girl. Forced to work in a German officers’ dining hall, she eavesdropped on the German plans. She began smuggling people out of the work camp, hiding Jews in the basement of a Nazi major’s home and learned how to fight back. In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer (Ember), by Irene Gut Opdyke and Jennifer Armstrong, is powerful and life-affirming. Appropriate for readers age 14 and up.
■ The November 1995 murder of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin by a religious Jew opposed to the peace process had a profound impact that continues to reverberate to this day. Based on interviews, confessions, court documents, and the cooperation of both the Rabin and the murder’s families, Killing a King by Dan Ephron (W.W. Norton & Co.) is a tightly coiled narrative that sheds new light even if the social and political answers remain elusive.
■ The first Jew on the U.S. Supreme Court (1916-1939), Louis D. Brandeis — complicated, skeptical and progressive — fiercely defended personal and economic liberty while opposing government and business stricken by the “curse of bigness.” He championed education and jurisprudence in democracy. As the leader of the American Zionist Movement, Brandeis helped convince U.S. President Woodrow Wilson and the British government of the importance of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Published on the 100th anniversary of the justice’s confirmation, Louis D. Brandeis, American Prophet (Yale University Press) by legal expert Jeffrey Rosen, authoritatively examines the life, work and legacy of a constitutional philosopher who drew from Isaiah and Jefferson to write still-resonant opinions on privacy, free speech and excesses of corporate and federal power.
■ Rabbi Marvin Hier is a Jewish-American success story: The Orthodox rabbi from New York City’s Lower East Side is the founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Museum of Tolerance, earned two Academy Awards as the founder of Moriah Films and is the driving force behind a new state-of-the-art museum in Jerusalem. In Meant To Be: A Memoir (Toby), Rabbie Hier recounts with classic Jewish humor the birth of the world’s most influential human-rights organizations, the hunt for “Angel of Death” Joseph Mengele, his friendship with Jordan’s King Hussein, Frank Sinatra and Jeffrey Katzenberg and meeting every president since Jimmy Carter.
■ A professor at Bard College, author Ian Buruma pieces together the story of his own grandparents in Their Promised Land: My Grandparents in Love and War (Penguin Press). Born into prosperous German Jewish emigre families in England, Winifred and Bernard Schlesinger (Buruma’s grandparents and film director John Schlesinger’s parents) were separated for long periods of time while England was at war with Nazi Germany. Drawing from the trove of love letters left behind, Buruma explores questions of class, culture and identity as the couple stoically and discreetly faced anti-Semitism in the country they loved.
■ In Doomed to Succeed: The U.S.-Israel Relationship from Truman to Obama (Farrar Straus Giroux), American diplomat Dennis Ross looks back before, and through, his own 30-year involvement in American efforts to help achieve peace between Israel and its neighbors since the 1980s — and to explore why the American-Israeli alliance remains strong despite deep differences in personalities and politics. Ross argues that peace can only be made if the relationship remains ironclad, and offers advice about how to understand Arab and Israeli politics and best shape American policy in that light.
■ After 15 years, award-winning Jewish journalist George Robinson has updated his Essential Judaism: A Complete Guide to Beliefs, Customs and Rituals (Atria Paperback). It’s a comprehensive, concise reference that has been relied upon by, for instance, b’nai mitzvah and potential converts. Revised topics include denominational shifts, intermarriage and gay marriage, and the evolving roles of women.
■ Kaddish, edited by David Birnbaum and Martin S. Cohen (New Paradigm Matrix) comprises the writings of 28 scholars on the Jewish prayer of mourning — including an essay by Rabbi Herbert A. Yoskowitz of Adat Shalom Synagogue in Farmington Hills. “When the Kaddish is said in a Kaddish Minyan,” Yoskowitz writes, “we praise God, and we join with God in praying for a better world. Doing that gives us a greater sense of purpose and serenity.” He calls Kaddish “the strongest spiritual tool” there is to sustain Jews during their period of mourning.
■ Novelist Joseph Skibell reads some of the Talmud’s tales with the insight of a storyteller and retells the tales in Six Memos from the Last Millenium: A Novelist Reads the Talmud (University of Texas Press). Sometimes wild, rude, even bawdy, Skibell’s memos focus on the lives of the legendary rabbis depicted in the Talmud with the goal of uncovering the wisdom they can still impart to our modern age and pursuing a livable transcendence.
■ In Talks on the Parsha (Maggid Books) by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz and Lessons in Leadership: A Weekly Reading of the Jewish Bible (Maggid Books) by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, two of the world’s leading rabbis use the weekly Torah portions as a starting point to share deep insights, both illuminating and accessible. Steinsaltz asks, and answers, about the purpose of life and the meaning of progress, while Sacks mines the same portions for insights into the nature of power, authority and leadership. Grounded in Jewish history, belief and practice, both share human lessons relevant to all of humanity.
■ In Till We Have Built Jerusalem: Architects of a New City (Farrar Straus Giroux), Adina Hoffman, an American-born Jerusalemite, writes of the city’s architecture and development by looking at the work of three very different architects who designed and built the modern city in the first half of the 20th century. Through her telling photos of these fascinating lives, she paints a rich and insightful portrait of Jerusalem itself. Historic photos helpfully illustrate many of the buildings, styles and features she discusses.
■ Why Be Jewish? A Testament (Twelve) conveys author Edgar Bronfman’s awe, respect and deep love for his faith and heritage. Completed just weeks before his death in December 2013, the book honestly and poignantly shares Bronfman’s own longtime “break” with Judaism and how he re-learned, with a “deep and absorbing love,” to live with Judaism as more than a cultural identity.
■ Brothers and NFL players, former Detroit Lion and Carolina Panther Geoff Schwartz and Kansas City Chief Mitch Schwartz, know that football and a good kosher dish are the perfect companions. In Eat My Schwartz: Our Story of NFL Football, Food, Family and Faith (St. Martin’s Press; due out Sept. 2016), the star offensive linemen, who were the first Jewish brothers to play in the NFL at the same time since 1923, talk about what has made them who they are: their close-knit, supportive family, their Jewish faith and their favorite foods. They share recipes of their Grandma’s Latkes, Mitch’s Pizza Dough and Geoff’s Perfect Pre-Wedding Bagel. Eat My Schwartz is a hilarious read that neither football fans nor foodies will want to miss.
■ An award-winning journalist and pop culture chronicler, Dan Epstein takes readers through an amazing year for baseball and America in Stars & Strikes: Baseball and America in the Bicentennial Summer of ’76 (Thomas Dunne Books). Tale after tale tells of outsized personalities, inside stories and cultural currents that would change baseball forever. And, for us Detroiters, recalling the year Tigers’ rookie Mark Fidrych electrified the city by going 19-9 and starting the All-Star Game, is a heckuva lot of fun — even if the Tigers finished the year in the cellar.
■ The precocious golden boy of American Jewish letters in the 1930s, Delmore Schwartz wrote In Dreams Begin Responsibilities when he was just 21 and was immortalized as the protagonist in Saul Bellow’s Humboldt’s Gift. But a life of alcoholism and mental illness was ended when he died in relative obscurity in a Times Square flophouse at the age of 52 in 1966. Now, with much of Schwartz’s writing out of print for decades, poet Craig Morgan Teicher aims to restore Schwartz to his proper place in the canon of American literature with Once and For All: The Best of Delmore Schwartz (New Directions).
■ Kids’ book legend Judith Viorst began publishing poetry in New York magazine in the 1960s. In her 12th book of poetry, Wait for Me: The Irritations and Consolations of a Long Marriage (Simon & Schuster), she explores the peeves and pleasures of that blessing — as well as a bold and tender look at what lies beyond — with inspiration from her own 55-year marriage to her husband, Milton. *
Sandee Brawarsky, Don Cohen, Keri Guten Cohen, Jackie Headapohl, Jeffrey Hermann, Lynne Konstantin, David Sachs and Robert Sklar contributed to this story.