Share 9 Novels By Contemporary Jewish Writers for a Sweet New Year

9 Novels By Contemporary Jewish Writers for a Sweet New Year

Wendy Sheanin is a lifelong reader and writer. She began her career in books as events manager at A Clean, Well-Lighted Place for Books in San Francisco. While her heart remains in San Francisco, she moved to New York in 2007 and is now Vice President, Director of Marketing at Simon & Schuster. When she falls in love with a book, she’s relentless about sharing it with other readers—but in a good way.

Next week I will fly to California to spend the High Holidays with my family. It’s a time of reflection and often a time to set an intention for the year ahead. Whether or not you’re Jewish, if your intention is to read more books by contemporary Jewish writers, here are 9 novels that are smart, funny, imaginative, thoughtful, compelling, and heartbreaking for your reading list.


Days of Awe
by Lauren Fox

In one eventful year, Isabel Moore’s husband left, her 10-year-old daughter became a moody tween, and her best friend was killed in a car accident. Suddenly, the relationships that have always defined Isabel—wife, mother, best friend—are changing before her eyes. DAYS OF AWE is a smart, piercing story of transformation, not necessarily welcomed but necessary nonetheless.

Days of Awe
Lauren Fox

In one eventful year, Isabel Moore’s husband left, her 10-year-old daughter became a moody tween, and her best friend was killed in a car accident. Suddenly, the relationships that have always defined Isabel—wife, mother, best friend—are changing before her eyes. DAYS OF AWE is a smart, piercing story of transformation, not necessarily welcomed but necessary nonetheless.

MENTIONED IN:

9 Novels By Contemporary Jewish Writers for a Sweet New Year

By Wendy Sheanin | September 27, 2016

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Electric City
by Elizabeth Rosner

Sophie Levine is coming of age in Electric City, the birthplace of Edison Machine Works. But in 1965, the town, and America as a whole, is on the cusp of great instability. A poetic and multilayered love story, ELECTRIC CITY shows how we light our way, struggling to bridge the gap between the old world and the new.

Electric City
Elizabeth Rosner

Sophie Levine is coming of age in Electric City, the birthplace of Edison Machine Works. But in 1965, the town, and America as a whole, is on the cusp of great instability. A poetic and multilayered love story, ELECTRIC CITY shows how we light our way, struggling to bridge the gap between the old world and the new.

MENTIONED IN:

9 Novels By Contemporary Jewish Writers for a Sweet New Year

By Wendy Sheanin | September 27, 2016

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As Close to Us as Breathing
by Elizabeth Poliner

Sisters Ada, Vivie, and Bec gather each summer at their family cottage in Connecticut at “Bagel Beach,” with children in tow and weekend-only husbands who arrive each Friday in time for the Sabbath meal. But a tragic accident the summer of 1948 irreparably alters the long-established family equilibrium. This debut novel is a beautiful meditation on grief, guilt, and the boundaries of identity and love.

As Close to Us as Breathing
Elizabeth Poliner

Sisters Ada, Vivie, and Bec gather each summer at their family cottage in Connecticut at “Bagel Beach,” with children in tow and weekend-only husbands who arrive each Friday in time for the Sabbath meal. But a tragic accident the summer of 1948 irreparably alters the long-established family equilibrium. This debut novel is a beautiful meditation on grief, guilt, and the boundaries of identity and love.

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The World Without You
by Joshua Henkin

It’s July 4, 2005, and the Frankels have gathered to memorialize Leo, the youngest of the four siblings and an intrepid journalist killed a year ago, while on assignment in Iraq. But the family is adrift, overwhelmed by navigating their lives and their grief at the same time. THE WORLD WITHOUT YOU asks, How do we move on after losing someone we love? How do we allow ourselves to love again?

The World Without You
Joshua Henkin

It’s July 4, 2005, and the Frankels have gathered to memorialize Leo, the youngest of the four siblings and an intrepid journalist killed a year ago, while on assignment in Iraq. But the family is adrift, overwhelmed by navigating their lives and their grief at the same time. THE WORLD WITHOUT YOU asks, How do we move on after losing someone we love? How do we allow ourselves to love again?

MENTIONED IN:

9 Novels By Contemporary Jewish Writers for a Sweet New Year

By Wendy Sheanin | September 27, 2016

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They May Not Mean To, But They Do
by Cathleen Schine

When Joy Bergman’s beloved husband dies, her children have no shortage of solutions for their elderly mother’s loneliness and despair, but there is one challenge they did not count on: the reappearance of an ardent suitor from Joy’s college days. THEY MAY NOT MEAN TO, BUT THEY DO is a wryly observed, heartfelt novel about aging, family, loneliness, and love.

They May Not Mean To, But They Do
Cathleen Schine

When Joy Bergman’s beloved husband dies, her children have no shortage of solutions for their elderly mother’s loneliness and despair, but there is one challenge they did not count on: the reappearance of an ardent suitor from Joy’s college days. THEY MAY NOT MEAN TO, BUT THEY DO is a wryly observed, heartfelt novel about aging, family, loneliness, and love.

MENTIONED IN:

9 Novels By Contemporary Jewish Writers for a Sweet New Year

By Wendy Sheanin | September 27, 2016

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The Marriage of Opposites
by Alice Hoffman
Alice Hoffman’s THE MARRIAGE OF OPPOSITES is an epic love story grounded in history. It has a fierce and passionate heroine, a lush and sensual setting, and a taboo love worth fighting for. Really, what more could you want?
The Marriage of Opposites
Alice Hoffman

Wendy’s Fictional Dinner Party Guest: Rachel Pomié Petit Pizzarro

Rachel Pomié Petit Pizzarro is a woman full of fire and life. A businesswoman, a romantic, a renegade, she’s quite the nineteenth-century badass, not taking anyone else’s advice on how to live her life. I respect and admire her passion, vulnerability, and fearlessness in the face of the judgment of her insular St. Thomas community. She followed her heart, suffered for it, and lived the life she wanted—with a great love and many children, one of whom was the artist Camille Pissarro, father of Impressionism. No doubt, she would command the room.

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9 Novels By Contemporary Jewish Writers for a Sweet New Year

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Love and Shame and Love
by Peter Orner

This multigenerational family saga illuminates the countless ways that love both makes us whole and completely unravels us. LOVE AND SHAME AND LOVE is a comic and sorrowful tapestry of memory and of connection and disconnection.

Love and Shame and Love
Peter Orner

This multigenerational family saga illuminates the countless ways that love both makes us whole and completely unravels us. LOVE AND SHAME AND LOVE is a comic and sorrowful tapestry of memory and of connection and disconnection.

MENTIONED IN:

9 Novels By Contemporary Jewish Writers for a Sweet New Year

By Wendy Sheanin | September 27, 2016

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The View from Penthouse B
by Elinor Lipman

Elinor Lipman is one of my favorite writers because she’s so unassuming and funny. Her novels are so well-observed and uncomfortably true with both a light touch and a shadow of sadness. Her latest, THE VIEW FROM PENTHOUSE B, is a sister story of unexpected midlife changes and love in unexpected places.

The View from Penthouse B
Elinor Lipman

Elinor Lipman is one of my favorite writers because she’s so unassuming and funny. Her novels are so well-observed and uncomfortably true with both a light touch and a shadow of sadness. Her latest, THE VIEW FROM PENTHOUSE B, is a sister story of unexpected midlife changes and love in unexpected places.

MENTIONED IN:

9 Novels By Contemporary Jewish Writers for a Sweet New Year

By Wendy Sheanin | September 27, 2016

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The Paris Architect
by Charles Belfoure

I gave this book to my boyfriend’s mother and she loved it—so much so that she keeps asking if I’ve read it yet. So it’s on my list for this year! In 1942 Paris, gifted architect Lucien Bernard accepts a commission that will bring him a great deal of money—and maybe get him killed. All he has to do is design a secret hiding place for a wealthy Jewish man, a space so invisible that even the most determined German officer won’t find it.

The Paris Architect
Charles Belfoure

I gave this book to my boyfriend’s mother and she loved it—so much so that she keeps asking if I’ve read it yet. So it’s on my list for this year! In 1942 Paris, gifted architect Lucien Bernard accepts a commission that will bring him a great deal of money—and maybe get him killed. All he has to do is design a secret hiding place for a wealthy Jewish man, a space so invisible that even the most determined German officer won’t find it.

MENTIONED IN:

9 Novels By Contemporary Jewish Writers for a Sweet New Year

By Wendy Sheanin | September 27, 2016

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