Oakton Reads Jewish Literature
Wednesdays, 7-8:30 p.m., Room A145-152, Skokie Campus
Registration is free through the Alliance for Lifelong Learning Office
Every Spring Semester Oakton Community College Library hosts a Jewish Literature series entitled Oakton Reads Jewish Literature. This year’s five-part series of readings, lectures, and discussions will be led by 3 distinguished professors: Davis Schneiderman, Josh Corey from Lake Forest College, and Elana Barron, English professor at OCC. The books being discussed this current semester are:
The Mathematician’s Shiva
by Stuart Rojstaczer
Meeting Date: February 3. 2016
“Alexander ‘Sasha’ Karnokovitch and his family would like to mourn the passing of his mother, Rachela, with modesty and dignity. But Rachela, a famous Polish emigre; mathematician and professor at the University of Wisconsin, is rumored to have solved the million-dollar, Navier-Stokes Millennium Prize Problem. Rumor also has it that she spitefully took the solution to her grave.
To Sasha’s chagrin, a ragtag group of socially challenged mathematicians arrives in Madison and crashes the shiva, vowing to do whatever it takes to find the solution—even if it means prying up the floorboards for Rachela’s notes. Written by a trained geophysicist, this hilarious and multi-layered debut novel brims with colorful characters and brilliantly captures humanity’s drive not just to survive, but to solve the impossible” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).
The Mapmaker’s Daughter
by Laurel Corona
Meeting Date: February 24, 2016
“Spain, 1492. On the eve of the Jewish expulsion from Spain, Amalia Riba stands at a crossroads. In a country violently divided by religion, she must either convert to Christianity and stay safe, or remain a Jew and risk everything. It’s a choice she’s been walking toward her whole life, from the days of her youth when her family lit the Shabbat candles in secret. Back then, she saw the vast possibility of the world, outlined in the beautiful pen and ink maps her father created. But the world has shifted and contracted since then.
The Mapmaker’s Daughter is a stirring novel about identity, exile, and what it means to be home. A close look at the great costs and greater rewards of being true to who you really are” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).
by David Bezmozgis
Meeting Date: March 23, 2016
This book is about “one fraught, momentous day in the life of Baruch Kotler, a Soviet Jewish dissident who now finds himself a disgraced Israeli politician. When he refuses to back down from a contrary but principled stand regarding the settlements in the West Bank, his political opponents expose his affair with a mistress decades his junior, and the besieged couple escapes to Yalta, the faded Crimean resort of Kotler’s youth. There, shockingly, Kotler encounters the former friend whose denunciation sent him to the Gulag almost forty years earlier.
In a whirling twenty-four hours, Kotler must face the ultimate reckoning, both with those who have betrayed him and with those whom he has betrayed, including a teenage daughter, a son facing his own moral dilemma in the Israeli army, and the wife who once campaigned to secure his freedom and stood by him through so much.” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).
An Officer and a Spy
by Robert Harris
Meeting Date: April 13, 2016
“Alfred Dreyfus has been convicted of treason, sentenced to life imprisonment on a far-off island, and publicly stripped of his rank. Among the witnesses to his humiliation is Georges Picquart, an ambitious military officer who believes in Dreyfus’s guilt as staunchly as any member of the public.
But when he is promoted to head of the French counter-espionage agency, Picquart finds evidence that a spy still remains at large in the military—indicating that Dreyfus is innocent. As evidence of the most malignant deceit mounts and spirals inexorably toward the uppermost levels of government, Picquart is compelled to question not only the case against Dreyfus but also his most deeply held beliefs about his country, and about himself” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).
The Book of Jonah
by Joshua Max Feldman
Meeting Date: May 4, 2016
“The modern-day Jonah at the center of Joshua Max Feldman’s brilliantly conceived retelling of the book of Jonah is a young Manhattan lawyer named Jonah Jacobstein. He’s a lucky man: healthy and handsome, with two beautiful women ready to spend the rest of their lives with him and an enormously successful career that gets more promising by the minute. He’s celebrating a deal that will surely make him partner when a bizarre, unexpected biblical vision at a party changes everything.
Hard as he tries to forget what he saw, this disturbing sign is only the first of many Jonah will witness, and before long his life is unrecognizable. Though this perhaps divine intervention will be responsible for more than one irreversible loss in Jonah’s life, it will also cross his path with that of Judith Bulbrook, an intense, breathtakingly intelligent woman who’s no stranger to loss herself. As this funny and bold novel moves to Amsterdam and then Las Vegas, Feldman examines the way we live now while asking an age-old question: How do you know if you’re chosen?” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).
-posted by Kevin Purtell
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