Gold oversees an international online journal that publishes Jewish work by both celebrated and lesser-known authors.
“I think fiction has a special magic about it,” Nora Gold says. “It broadens your mind and introduces you to different kinds of people and cultures.”
Gold began writing fiction when she was only a child. Her fascination with it never left her, and after a successful career as a social worker and later a professor of Social Work at the University of Toronto, she resigned from her position in order to write fiction full-time.
She wrote three award-winning books between 1998 and 2015. Her first book, Marrow and Other Stories, is described by the Toronto Globe and Mail as “a compassionate, sophisticated exposé of the inner struggles of contemporary women.” It was followed by Fields of Exile, a novel about anti-Israelism on Canadian college campuses.
Her third book, the Dead Man, was translated into Hebrew and published last summer in Israel. An upcoming book, a novel set on the High Holy days, will be available in 2022.
Aside from her impressive achievements as an author, Dr. Gold is both the founder and editor of the prestigious online literary journal, Jewish Fiction.net, which was introduced to the world for the first time before Rosh Hashana of 2010. Having recently celebrated its tenth anniversary, it has evolved into a highly respected and internationally successful journal of Jewish writing that publishes every 6 months.
“Right from the beginning there was a great amount of interest in the journal because it was filling a gap that did not exist,” she recalled. “I’ve been very aware that not all writers are as lucky as I have been. I think it’s really important to support other writers who are part of my community, especially those who are writing first-rate Jewish fiction.”
At the time when the journal was founded, digital publishing was only beginning to emerge and publishers were not taking risks with authors they did not know. The genre of Jewish fiction — a niche in itself — was an even more challenging field for writers struggling to get their work recognized.
Dr. Gold decided that ”it was important to create a digital space for first-rate contemporary Jewish writers.”
Since founding Jewish Fiction.net in 2010, Dr. Gold has published over 400 works of fiction by such eminent writers as Elie Wiesel, Chava Rosenfarb, Aharon Appelfeld and A.B. Yehoshua.
The stories in Jewish Fiction.net were either written in English or translated into English prior to submission from such languages as French, Danish, Spanish, Italian, Serbian, Croatian, German, Russian, Romanian, Turkish, Polish, Hungarian, Yiddish, Ladino, and Hebrew. Jewish Fiction.net is truly an international journal, with readers in over 140 countries.
Looking to the future, Dr. Gold is hoping to access more translations of stories, especially from languages that haven’t been included yet, and wants to attract more readers to her website.
Dr. Gold is deeply concerned about divisiveness and polarization within the Jewish world. Key to her vision from the very beginning was that the journal be a “place where all Jews, Jewish writers and leaders, of all sorts of backgrounds could come together, listen to each other and build some bridges so we could see what unites us and binds us, not just what separates us.”
A carefully selected panel of professional writers and editors screen contributions and, If they provide positive feedback, the stories are then forwarded to Dr. Gold for the final say. She takes every submission that she reviews seriously, whether it be by an experienced writer or one that is just starting out. “We really go by quality, looking at the excellence of the work, not the background of the writer, when deciding what to publish,” she said.
An unexpected benefit of having created Jewish Fiction.net is that it has connected Dr. Gold with an international community of writers and colleagues. In addition, the success of the journal, which is widely acknowledged and respected, has led her to be able to establish collaborations with publishers, agents and translation institutes throughout the world. The journal is accessible to readers free of charge charge and registration is a simple process to complete on the website.
Her love of good writing continues to inspire her. She believes that “writing that grabs you and makes you open yourself in the deepest way to the experience of the writer you are reading is something that’s fairly rare.” She continues to seek high calibre work for her journal and is excited about the future of Jewish writing.
Judy Weinryb is a freelance writer who writes frequently for the J.Ca, a new cross Canada online publication. She previously has written articles for the Jewish Tribune and Canadian Jewish News.