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LET'S TALK ABOUT IT! 2006

Please join us for a reading and discussion series like no other. Led by UF English professor Andrew Gordon, Let's Talk About It! Jewish Literature will feature lively discussion of five books on the common theme of A Mind of Her Own: Fathers and Daughters in a Changing World.


Sholem AleichemSholem Aleichem
Tevye the Dairyman
August 27, 2:00-4:00 p.m.

 Sholem Aleichem's most famous character is an educated workingman in tsarist Russia, struggling to make a living, marry off his many daughters, and—despite a wife who raises cursing to an artform—live an old-fashioned life. Instead, his children present him with all the troubles of a world in transition. Tsayl's inisistence on marrying for love is hard enough on Tevye, but his younger daughter's romantic entaglements bring more serious ills—antireligious socialists, class struggle, superstitious ignorance, and finally the anti-Semitism that drives the Jews from their shtetl homes.
 Tevye believes unshakably in his special connection to the Master of the Universe, and remains optimistic even when irony is the only kind of joke he can sustain. Why, he asks himself, if God loves the Jews so much, does he make their lives so bitter?


Anzia YezierskaAnzia Yezierska
Bread Givers
September 10, 2:00-4:00 p.m.

 Yezierska's, who emigrated from Poland to America in 1890, tells the story of Sara Smolinsky, the youngest of five daughters living on the Lower East Side's Hester Street in the 1920's. Sara's father is a rabbi, a learned man who studies indisturbed while his wife and daughters struggle to cobble together a meager existence. After her father marries each of her sisters off in loveless (and often dubious) arrangements, Sara flees home, desperate to escape the same fate and determined to breathe in "the new air of America."
 Yezierska's autobiographical novel remains a classic, a compelling depiction of the struggles of Jewish immigrant life, particularly for women, in the early 20th century.


Anne RoipheAnne Roiphe
1185 Park Avenue: A Memoir
October 22, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

 Roiphe grew up in Manhattan's most exclusive neighborhood, tended by governesses and desperate for approval of her opinionated father, who regarded girls as mere decorative objects. The story of a girlhood replete with Chanel suits, chauffeur-driven shopping trips, and canasta ganes with Vladimir Horowitz should read like a fairy tale; instead, her memoir is a wrenching descent into the toxic gloom of an unhappy family.
 As an adult, Roiphe learned that misery isn't necessarily destiny, that the "mud of the past" need not pull her down, and that she could indeed liberate herself from the "long, joyless conga line" of her parents' mah-jongg and cocktail parties.


Philip RothPhilip Roth
American Pastoral
October 22, 2:00-4:00 p.m.

 "Being wrong about people is how we know we're alive," Nathan Zuckerman, Roth's recurring narrator, muses after discovering exactly how wrong he was about the golden-haired idol of his youth. Fifty years after high shool, Zuckerman can see that Seymour "Swede" Levov's charming façade obscures complicated and tragic depths. Swede marries a beauty queen and runs his immigrant grandfatherr's prosperous company only to see his daughter become a bomb=throwing fugitive.
 Swede embodies the promise and glory of postwar America—as well as the tragic loss of that paradise. This first installment of Roth's American Trilogy explores themes of loyalty and betrayal against a backdrop of social and political ferment.


Myla GoldbergMyla Goldberg
Bee Season
November 5, 2:00-4:00 p.m.

 Nine-year-old Eliza, the least impressive member of the brainy Naumann Family, amazes everyone by winning the local spelling bee, then the state contest. When she nearly prevails at nationals, her father, a cantor, introduces her to the works of medieval mystic Abraham Abulafia in hopes that understanding the world "in alphabetical terms" will help her win it all next year. As Eliza gallops towards enlightement, she outshines her geeky older brother, Aaron; no longer the family star, he turns his back on his family and faith.
 With equal measures of deadpan humor and lyricism, Goldberg chronicles an extraordinary year in the life of a seemingly ordinary family. She unflinchingly details the awkwardness of Eliza's pre-spelling days and evokes the pure pleasure afforded by her spiritual quest.

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