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Book Discussions

Book Discussions

To mark Jewish Book Month, Spertus Institute is proud to again spearhead One Book | One Community, in which a single Jewish book is selected as the focal point of discussions and events across the Greater Chicago Jewish community.

The 2016 selection was The Imperial Wife by Irina Reyn.

Called "mesmerizing" by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and "playful and profound" by Booklist, The Imperial Wife intertwines the stories of two ambitious immigrants. One is a rising Jewish/Russian art specialist at an international auction house in present-day New York. The other is the future Catherine the Great as she maneuvers through the Russian court in the 18th century.

This is the second novel by author Irina Reyn. Her first, What Happened to Anna K., won the Goldberg Prize for Jewish Fiction by Emerging Writers. Her work has appeared in publications from Town & Country to Jezebel. Like Tanya, one of the characters in The Imperial Wife, Reyn immigrated to the United States from Moscow. She has been writing about the experience—in one way or another—ever since.

Book discussions were scheduled in a variety of locations, from Homewood to Highland Park.

The first group of discussions was led by Rachel Kamin, Director of the Joseph and Mae Gray Cultural & Learning Center at North Suburban Synagogue Beth El and the Spertus One Book I One Community Book Discussion Facilitator. Rachel is a past chair of Association of Jewish Libraries' Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee. She regularly gives presentations and workshops about Jewish literature and writes for publications including BookLinks and Jewish Book World. 


Irina Reyn's author appearances are part of the Solomon Goldman Program Series, generously endowed by the late Rose and Sidney Shure.

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Did you enjoy The Imperial Wife, where a rare object connects stories and characters across centuries? If so, explore our list of other books you might enjoy. Find your next book >