8 New Books to Read Over Passover 5777
Slip away from your seder and sink into poetry, memoirs, and new fiction about someone else’s dysfunctional Jewish family at Passover:
- •Tell Me How This Ends Well by David Samuel LevinsonTen years into the future, three siblings reunite in Los Angeles to “celebrate” Passover as a family and carry out an ill-conceived plot to murder their dad. David Samuel Levinson imagines a near-future in which antisemitism runs rampant and Israeli refugees roam the Globe after the world stood by and watched the annihilation of the Jewish State at the hands of its neighbors.
- •The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane AckermanNiki Caro’s movie adaptation of Diane Ackerman’s 2007 bestseller hit theaters just in time for the holiday—and the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, which broke out on the first night of Passover, 1943. Inspired by the Passover seder held by the Jews hidden in the Warsaw zoo and the start of the revolt, Jewish Book Council’s new custom book club kit for The Zookeeper’s Wife features a special Passover haggadah supplement compiled in collaboration with humanitarian relief agencies.
- •Moses: A Human Life by Aviva Gottlieb ZornbergWhat better time than Passover to read a biography of Moshe Rabbeinu—written by renowned scholar and lecturer Dr. Aviva Gottlieb Zornberg, no less—than Passover? Accessible and illuminating, Zornberg’s recent contribution to the Yale Jewish Lives series brings her signature cross-application of Jewish texts, world literature, and psychoanalytic examination to one of Tanakh’s most complex characters.
- •We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia HunterBased on the true story of her family’s survival of World War II as Polish Jews, Georgia Hunter’s debut novel begins and ends with two Passover seders, eight years apart. In early March of 1939, Addy Kurc—Hunter’s maternal grandfather—meanders the streets of Paris, turning over a letter from his mother begging him to stay in France for the upcoming holiday rather than risk the closing borders of German-occupied Poland. It will be eight years before they see each other again.
- •The Dinner Party by Brenda JanowitzSylvia is planning the perfect Passover seder. Everything from the table settings to the menu to managing her helpless husband and hapless children—a son run off to Doctors Without Borders, a daughter who left medical school (and a Rothschild suitor) for the beach, a non-Jewish boyfriend dating the professionally successful one—has been accounted for. But guests comes with problems and intrigues of their own…
- •My Jewish Year by Abigail PogrebinPassover holds a special place in Abigail Pogrebin’s new personal exploration of the Jewish holidays, given her family legacy around the holiday—her mother, Letty Cottin Pogrebin, convened the first feminist seder together with E. M. Broner, Phyllis Chesler, and Lilly Rivlin, and Abigail grew up attending this annual gathering as a “Seder daughter” over the subsequent years, seated among Gloria Steinem, Bella Abzug, Bea Kreloff, Edith Isaac-Rose, and others.
- •The Book of Separation by Tova MirvisPassover emerges as a compass of unexpected resonance for Tova Mirvis in her forthcoming memoir. Celebrating Halloween for the first time at age 40, the foreign experience of trick-or-treating with her children reminds her of Bedikat Chametz with her father the night before Passover every year. Toward the end of the book, recounting the story of Exodus at a small seder with only her parents and children, Mirvis begins to think of her own liberation: her divorce.
- •Open My Lips by Rachel BarenblatListing everything to be done before the holiday begins—from buying canned macaroons to calling her mother “to ask again whether she cooks / matzah balls in salted water or broth, because you can”—Barenblat combines wry humor with heartbreaking memories, adding, “Realize that no matter how many you buy / there are never quite enough eggs at Pesach,” right after a memory of her grandfather confused over the loss of his wife only weeks before another Passover years ago.