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People of the Books: New books and visiting authors

People of the Books: New books and visiting authors

From People of the Books, a JUF News blog with
reviews, recommendations, and other reasons to read.
By Spertus Institute's Betsy Gomberg.

A number of prominent Jewish authors will be visiting Chicago in the coming months to talk about new and notable books. Here are some highlights:

On Sunday May 1st, as part of the Chicago Humanities Festival’s spring programming, Andrew Solomon was in Chicago talking about his new book
Far and Away: Reporting from the Brink of Change.

Solomon’s previous books wove together in-depth investigations of universal issues with his own personal history. For me, Far from the Tree and The Noonday Demon (a Pulitzer Prize finalist and winner of the National Book Award) have had real staying power. They are the kind of books I find myself thinking back to often.

Far and AwaySolomon’s new book is a collection of essays — written over 25 years — about places undergoing seismic political, cultural, and spiritual shifts. Based on his experiences reporting from Afghanistan, China, Myanmar, Russia, and South Africa, Solomon explores the unfolding of history through the lens of the people creating and being shaped by it.

For this event, Solomon was in conversation with another brilliant writer, Aleksandar Hemon. Hemon, both a MacArthur and Guggenheim Fellow, is author of The Lazarus Project, Zombie Wars, and The Book of My Lives.

In advance of his Humanities Festival appearance, Solomon also spoke at the University Club of Chicago, planned in conjunction with the Book Stall at Chestnut Court. This presentation was Friday, April 29. More at

Dr. Irving Finkel
Wednesday, June 1 at 7 PM
Oriental Institute

The Ark Before NoahA world authority on the ancient Middle East, Dr. Irving Finkel works at the British Museum in London. In this talk, he’ll share the real-life detective story documented in his book, The Ark Before Noah: Decoding the Story of the Flood.

His Indiana Jones-like adventure began when a member of the pubic brought a remarkable cuneiform tablet to him for examination. The inscription on this 4000-year-old tablet led to a series of unexpected discoveries about the biblical story of Noah’s Ark.

More at

Melissa Fay Greene
June 11 or 12, schedule not yet released at this time

Printer’s Row Lit Fest

Melissa Fay Greene, one of my favorite writers, is on the line up for the 2016 Printer’s Row Lit Fest. Among her books is The Temple Bombing, a National Book Award Finalist about the 1958 attack on Atlanta’s oldest synagogue, a violent response to Rabbi Jacob Rothschild’s outspoken advocacy for civil rights.

Green is also the author of Praying for Sheetrock, named by New York University as one of the top hundred works of journalism in the twentieth century. Her range of other titles includes Last Man Out, No Biking in the House Without a Helmet, and There Is No Me Without You. Greene will be speaking about The Underdogs, due out later this month.

More at

Pamela Erens
June 11 or 12, schedule not yet released at this time
Printer’s Row Lit Fest

Full confession: I haven’t read anything by Pamela Erens (yet), even though Reader’s Digest named her “one of the 23 Contemporary Writers You Should Have Read by Now.” She is the author of The Understory, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and The Virgins, which received rave reviews in publications ranging from The New York Times to The Rumpus. Erens will be talking about Eleven Hours, The MillionsMost Anticipated Book of 2016.

More at

Jonathan Safran Foer
Wednesday, September 21 at 7:30 PM
The Music Box Theatre

Here I AmHaving heard Jonathan Safran Foer when he presented at Spertus Institute in 2013, I can assure you he is a fascinating speaker. In a program organized by The Music Box and Unabridged Bookstore, the bestselling author of Everything Is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close will be discussing his newest novel Here I Am, scheduled to be released September 6.

More at

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Betsy GombergBetsy Gomberg