2021 Events

  Download 2021 Jewish Book Festival Digital Program


PROLOGUE

Book Launch

WITH THE ZACK GALLERY

Thursday, February 11, 7:00pm

Memories of Jewish Poland: The 1932 Photographs of Nachum Tim Gidal
Curated and with a preface by YOSEF WOSK, Ph.D
Introduction by NISSAN N. PEREZ, Ph.D
Coordinated by DIANE EVANS

FREE  – Register here  |  Purchase the book

In 1932, the budding 23-year-old photographer Nachum Gidalewitsch (who would become the celebrated Israeli photographer Tim Gidal) set out from Munich to visit relatives and document what he viewed as exotic locals in Jewish Poland. The extraordinary photographic record of that visit is presented here for the first time in book form, in a poignant remembrance of a community that had no way to know it was in its last years.

So early in his remarkable career, Gidal portrays the moving ordinariness of a thriving community just before its annihilation. These straightforward, honest, and intimate portraits embody the mission the photographer himself once described as “capturing variations on the everlasting tragicomedy of human life.”

Throughout a career that spanned the better part of the twentieth century, Gidal imparted his genuine compassion for his subject matter and his profound belief in the significance of the photographer’s role as an historical eyewitness.

Recently inducted as an Officer of The Order of Canada and described as “a Renaissance man of the 21st century”, YOSEF WOSK has been deeply involved in education, the arts, libraries, museums, social services, nature, heritage preservation, religion and wide-ranging philanthropy. A rabbi and community activist, cited as a “polymath and a rebel brain,” he is a published author of multiple topics and styles, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Humanities at Simon Fraser University where he formerly served as Director of Interdisciplinary Programs. Besides curating exhibitions and writing essays on aesthetics, he has been collecting art for over fifty years and has one of the most significant photography collections in the province.

For further information see the BC BookLook website

OPENING NIGHT
The Betty Averbach Foundation Author Series
QUESTIONING THE ISRAELI PSYCHE

Saturday, February 20, 9:00pm

ESHKOL NEVO / The Last Interview
In conversation with MARSHA LEDERMAN

Get Tickets  |  Purchase the book

From the internationally best-selling author of Three Floors Up, a literary page-turner that delves into the deepening cracks in a carefully constructed public persona.

A writer starts to answer a set of interview questions sent by a website editor. At first, they are standard fare: Did you always know you would be a writer? How autobiographical are your books? Usually his answers are measured, calculated, cautious. But this time, when his heart is about to break and his life is about to crumble, he finds he cannot tell anything but the truth. The naked, funny, sad, scandalous, politically incorrect truth.

Every question he tackles opens a door to a hidden room of his life. Each of his answers reveals that at the heart of every truth there is a lie – and vice versa. Surprising, bold, intimate, and utterly engrossing, The Last Interview shows just how tenuous the lines are between work and life; love and hate; fact and fiction. And in exploring the many, often contradictory facets of an Israeli author’s identity, Eshkol Nevo also gives us a nuanced, thought-provoking portrait of a country at odds with itself.

ESHKOL NEVO is one of Israel’s most successful living writers, whose novels have been local bestsellers and widely translated. Nevo grew up in Jerusalem, Haifa, and Detroit. He teaches creative writing and thinking at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Tel Aviv University and Sapir College.

MARSHA LEDERMAN is the Western Arts Correspondent for The Globe and Mail. She covers the film and TV industry, visual art, literature, music, theatre, dance and cultural policy.

PARENTING – TIMELY CONVERSATIONS

Sunday February 21, 11:30am – 12:30pm

Dr. ABIGAIL GEWIRTZ / When the World Feels Like a Scary Place – Essential Conversations for Anxious Parents and Worried Kids
In conversation

FREE – Register here  |  Purchase the book

An urgent and necessary book, When the World Feels Like a Scary Place brings solutions to a problem that is only going to get worse—how bad things happening in the world affect our children, and how we can raise engaged and confident kids in spite of them.

Dr. Abigail Gewirtz offers a clear and truly practical guide to having the kind of tough conversations with your kids that really help, including how to talk about COVID-19. The heart of the book is a series of conversation scripts, with actual dialogue, talking points, prompts, and insightful asides, each tailored for different ages. She shows how to let the child lead. How to not make the problem worse by saying more than a child needs to know. How to check in with yourself to make sure your own anxiety doesn’t colour the conversation.

Dr. ABIGAIL GEWIRTZ is a child psychologist and a leading expert on families under stress. She is a professor in the University of Minnesota’s College of Education and Human Development and has been invited to speak widely, in the U.S. and across the world, on parenting in times of stress.

In Partnership with PJ Library

CULTURAL IDENTITY

Sunday February 21, 1:30 – 2:30pm

NORMAN LEBRECHT / Genius and Anxiety – How Jews Changed the World, 1847-1947
In conversation with Dr. RICHARD KURTH

Get Tickets  |  Purchase the book

Over a hundred-years, a handful of men and women changed the way we see the world. Many of them are well known – Marx, Freud, Proust, Einstein, Kafka. Others have vanished from collective memory despite their enduring importance in our daily lives. Without Karl Landsteiner there would be no blood transfusions or major surgery. Without Paul Ehrlich, no chemotherapy. What do these visionaries have in common? They all had Jewish origins. They all had a gift for thinking in wholly original, sometime earth-shattering ways.

Norman Lebrecht has devoted half of his life to pondering and researching the mindset of the Jewish intellectuals, writers, scientists, and thinkers who turned the tides of history and shaped the world as we know it today. In Genius & Anxiety, he begins with the Communist Manifesto in 1847 and ends in 1947, when Israel was founded. This robust, magnificent volume is an urgent and necessary celebration of Jewish genius and contribution.

NORMAN LEBRECHT is a British historian, cultural commentator, broadcaster and award-winning novelist. His 12 books about music have been translated into 17 languages. Among the best-selling titles are The Maestro Myth, Who Killed Classical Music and Why Mahler? His first novel The Song of Names won a Whitbred Award and was made into a major feature film. Lebrecht has lectured at cultural institutions worldwide. He lives in London, UK.

Dr. RICHARD KURTH, whose Vancouver family roots date to the 1930s, was the Director of the UBC School of Music. He currently lives in Australia, where he serves as Director of the Conservatorium of Music at the University of Melbourne.

SOUTH OF THE EQUATOR

Sunday February 21, 4:00 – 5:00pm

CARLA GUELFENBEIN / In the Distance with You
In conversation 

Get Tickets  |  Purchase the book

This Chilean literary thriller tells the story of three lives intertwined with that of an enigmatic author, whose character is inspired by the groundbreaking Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector.

Vera Sigall, now eighty years old, has lived a mysterious, ascetic life far from the limelight of literary circles. This powerful character has a profound effect on those around her – Daniel, an architect and her neighbour and friend, unhappy in his marriage and career; Emilia, a Franco-Chilean student who travels to Santiago to write a thesis on the elusive Vera; and Horacio, an acclaimed poet with whom Vera had a tumultuous, passionate affair in her youth. As Daniel, Emilia, and Horacio tell their stories, they reconstruct Vera’s past, and search for their own identities. Spanning from modern-day Chile to the 1950s, 60s, and through the years of the Pinochet dictatorship, In the Distance with You reveals successive mysteries and discoveries like a set of Russian nesting dolls.

CARLA GUELFENBEIN is a Chilean novelist of Russian-Jewish descent. She is the author of six novels and her work has been translated into 14 languages by prestigious editorial houses in Europe. Guelfenbein is one of the last bestselling phenomena of the Chilean narrative. In the Distance with You won the Premio Alfaguara de Novela, a prestigious Spanish-language literary award.

FOR ELEMENTARY SCHOOL STUDENTS

Monday, February 22, 9:30 – 10:30am  

BONNIE SHERR KLEIN / Beep Beep Bubbie
ÉLISABETH EUDES-PASCAL (illustrator)

FREE  |  Purchase the book

A refreshing and upbeat look at the role of perceived disability in one’s life.

Kate is upset when her grandma (Bubbie) gets a motorized scooter. Will Bubbie still be Bubbie in that scooter? Kate slowly warms to the scooter after she sees what a good friend it is to her grandma. And shopping at Granville Island Market with Bubbie and the scooter turns out to be so much fun! Her little brother Nate loves the scooter’s bells and whistles, and Kate makes new friends on their joyous outing.

BONNIE SHERR KLEIN, Officer of the Order of Canada, is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and writer and an anti-war and climate change activist. After suffering a catastrophic brainstem stroke in 1997, she published a best-selling memoir, Slow Dance: A Story of Love and Disability. Soon after, she co-founded KickstART Society for Disability Arts and Culture. Bonnie lives in Vancouver and moves through the world on Gladys, her motorized scooter.

ÉLISABETH EUDES-PASCAL is a highly acclaimed artist and illustrator and was a finalist for the Governor General Award for Children’s Book Illustration.

IN PARTNERSHIP WITH VTT, RJDS and the Inclusion department at the JCC

WINNER, 2020 WESTERN CANADA
JEWISH BOOK AWARDS

THE PINSKY GIVON FAMILY PRIZE FOR NON-FICTION

Monday, February 22. 5:30 – 6:30pm 

NAOMI K. LEWIS / Tiny Lights for Travellers
In conversation with Dr. ABBY WENER HERLIN

Get Tickets  |  Purchase the book

When her marriage suddenly ends, and a diary documenting her beloved Opa’s escape from Nazi-occupied Netherlands in the summer of 1942 is discovered, Naomi Lewis decides to retrace his journey to freedom. Travelling alone from Amsterdam to Lyon, she discovers family secrets and her own narrative as a second-generation Jewish Canadian.

With vulnerability, humour, and wisdom, Lewis’s memoir asks tough questions about her identity as a secular Jew, the accuracy of family stories, and the impact of the Holocaust on subsequent generations.

NAOMI K. LEWIS is the author of the novel Cricket in a Fist, the short story collection I Know Who You Remind Me Of, and the co-editor of the anthology Shy. Her memoir Tiny Lights for Travellers, was a finalist for the 2019 Governor General’s Literary Award for Nonfiction. Her journalism has been shortlisted for provincial and national magazine awards. She lives in Calgary.

Dr. ABBY WENER HERLIN is an educator, writer and therapist, founder of Threads Education. She teaches at UBC and specializes in social justice issues for classroom and curriculum.

IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THE VANCOUVER HOLOCAUST EDUCATION CENTRE

URGENT CONCERNS

Monday, February 22, 7:30 – 8:30pm  

SETH KLEIN / A Good War: Mobilizing Canada for the Climate Emergency
In conversation

Get Tickets  |  Purchase the book

In A Good War, the author explores how we can align our politics and economy with what the science says we must do to address the climate crisis. But Klein brings an original and uniquely hopeful take to this challenge. The book is structured around lessons from the Second World War – the last time Canada faced an existential threat. Others have said we need a “wartime approach” to climate change, but this is the first book to delve into what that could actually look like. Canada’s wartime experience, Klein contends, provides an inspirational reminder that we have mobilized before, in common cause across class, race and gender, and entirely retooled our economy in the space of a few short years.

SETH KLEIN was the founding BC director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and has been immersed in climate change and inequality issues since. He has been a social activist for over 35 years, since his high school days in the peace movement. He is currently an adjunct professor in urban studies at Simon Fraser University and remains a research associate with the CCPA.

SPONSORED BY: IAN & SANDY PENN; ESTHER CHETNER; ANONYMOUS

CREATIVE ACTIVITY FOR YOUNG CHILDREN

Tuesday, February 23, 9:00 – 10:00am 

RAE MATÉ / Crocs in a Box

FREE  |  Purchase the book

IN PARTNERSHIP WITH JCC PRESCHOOL AND DAYCARE

Illustrator Rae Maté will share her new boxset Crocs in a Box in a creative activity. The boxset consists of three previously published books written by Robert Heidbreder and illustrated by herself.

Crocodiles Say, Crocodiles Play and Crocs at Work offer youngsters lots of verbal and visual fun. The first hint that children are going to find something different in these three books is that the author has chosen a most unlikely animal, alligators, to be at the centre of the writing. And Maté’s human-like renderings of the reptiles, while maintaining their tooth-filled snout, visually contradict the animal’s negative reputation, causing the crocodiles to appear almost pet-like. The books’ author and illustrator work like a well-oiled comedy team with Heidbreder’s rhyming poetic text serving as the straight-faced man and Maté’s illustrations being used to deliver the punch line.

RAE MATÉ has been painting professionally for many years. Her many children’s picture books are published by Tradewind Books.

UNSETTLING HISTORY

Tuesday, February 23, 1:00 – 2:00pm

TALIA CARNER / The Third Daughter

Get Tickets  |  Purchase the book

With the JCC CIRCLE OF FRIENDS FOR WOMEN

The Third Daughter is an unsettling journey into the New World of the late 1800s. A trusting young woman lured from Russia and forced into prostitution in Argentina, Batya finds courage in the face of danger and hope in hours of despair — and bravely struggles to free herself from bondage while bringing down the powerful pimps’ union.

The novel breaks the silence on a shameful chapter—the legal Jewish sex-trafficking union Zwi Migdal, that operated with impunity from the late 1880s until WW II. Luring an estimated 150,000 young girls from the Eastern European shtetls to South America with false promises of jobs and marriages, they sold them into brothels. Inspired by Shalom Aleichem’s story, The Man From Buenos Aires, Talia Carner reinvents the life of one of Tevye’s daughters after the family flees a pogrom and meets the titular mysterious, shady man. The Third Daughter is a tribute to the victims, whose voices the author could not silence, and who propelled her to launch her campaign against today’s sex-trafficking.

TALIA CARNER is the award-winning author of five historical and psychological suspense novels. Formerly the publisher of Savvy Woman magazine and a lecturer at international women’s forums, she is committed to global human rights and has spearheaded projects focusing on female and children’s plights. Originally from Tel Aviv, she lives in New York and Florida.

ON THE MOTHERS AND DAUGHTERS SPECTRUM

Tuesday, February 23, 6:30 – 8:00pm 

Get Tickets

MYLA GOLDBERG / Feast Your Eyes  |  Purchase the book
A compelling and wholly original story from Myla Goldberg, the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of Bee Season – about a female photographer grappling with ambition and motherhood, the balancing act familiar to women of every generation.

Framed as catalogue notes from a photography show at the MOMA, the novel tells the life story of (fictional) Lillian Preston: “America’s Worst Mother, America’s Bravest Mother, America’s Worst Photographer, or America’s Greatest Photographer, depending on who was talking.” Mother and daughter are confronted with sudden notoriety that changes the course of their lives. Narrated by daughter Samantha, Feast Your Eyes is a collage of her own memories, interviews with Lillian’s friends and lovers, and excerpts from journals and letters, outlining Lillian’s life-long quest for artistic legitimacy and recognition.

MYLA GOLDBERG is the bestselling author of Bee Season, a New York Times Notable Book, The False Friend, and Wickett’s Remedy. She is a winner of the Borders New Voices Prize and her books were adapted to film and widely translated.

ILANA MASAD / All My Mother’s Lovers  Purchase the book
Maggie Krause has certainties: her queerness, her nine-to-five job, her love of smoking pot. When her mother Iris dies in a car crash, Maggie is devastated. Yet Iris never hid her discomfort with her daughter’s queerness. Alongside her mother’s will, Maggie discovers five sealed envelopes addressed to mysterious men. Instead of sitting shiva with her family, Maggie decides to hand-deliver the letters and find out the truth: the discoveries reveal a hidden life that changes everything Maggie thought she knew. A tender portrait of complex identities and family grief, All My Mother’s Lovers challenges generational divides and acknowledges how difficult it is to know our parents.

ILANA MASAD is a queer Israeli-American writer and book critic whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, etc. All My Mother’s Lovers is her debut novel.

Moderator: MARSHA LEDERMAN

SPONSORED BY THE WEINBERG RESIDENCE

BOOK LAUNCH

Wednesday, February 24, 1:00 – 2:00pm 

MIRA SUCHAROV/ Borders and Belonging: A Memoir
In conversation with MAX SUCHAROV

FREE – Register here  |  Purchase the book

IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THE WALDMAN LIBRARY

VIRTUAL LUNCH & LEARN with JCC Adults Department

In this gripping and honest memoir, Mira Sucharov shows what a search for political and emotional home looks like. Sucharov suffered from childhood phobias triggered by her parents’ divorce, and she sought emotional refuge in Jewish summer camp. But 3 years spent living in Israel in her twenties shook her to her core. Ultimately, encounters with colleagues, students, friends and lovers force her to confront what it means to be able to write, advocate and teach about Israel/Palestine in a way that balances affirmation with authenticity. This engaging work builds on the author’s successful voice as a scholar and public commentator to find politically engaging ways of discussing the Israel-Palestine conflict.

MIRA SUCHAROV is Professor of Political Science and University Chair of Teaching Innovation at Carleton University. She is the author or editor of five books and her many op-eds have appeared in Haaretz, The Forward, The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, etc.

MAX SUCHAROV is a psychoanalytic psychiatrist in Vancouver with a special interest in both trauma and the socio-political dimension of emotional suffering.

FOR BOOK CLUBS AND ALL BOOK LOVERS

Wednesday, February 24, 6:00 – 7:00pm

ANNA SOLOMON / The Book of V
In conversation with RHEA TREGEBOV

Get Tickets  |  Purchase the book

Each year at Purim, we tell the story of Esther, the Jewish orphan who rose to the throne of Persia and interceded with her husband to save her people from annihilation. Usually framed as a Cinderella-type story, the biblical account is less family-friendly: Esther is chosen to replace the disgraced queen Vashti, who refused a royal command to parade naked before a company of drunken men.

In this bold, kaleidoscopic novel, Anna Solomon interweaves the Biblical story of Esther and Vashti with those of two other women: Lily, a 40-something wife and mother in contemporary Brooklyn, and Vee, a young senator’s wife in Watergate-era Washington. Their stories of power, desire and sex overlap and ultimately converge in the present day, as “she reaches across centuries to capture the timeliness and timelessness of being a strong, passionate woman in a world governed by men. How far we’ve come and yet how many of the battles look the same”

We’ll be listening to Anna the day before the Purim holiday, for a new and unexpected take on its history, in an engrossing, highly readable, and darkly sexy novel.

ANNA SOLOMON is the author of Leaving Lucy Pear and The Little Bride and a two-time winner of the Pushcart Prize. Her short fiction and essays have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, One Story, Slate, and more. She lives in Brooklyn.

RHEA TREGEBOV is the winner of the Nancy Richler Memorial Prize for Fiction in 2020. She is the author of fiction, poetry and children’s books.

CREATIVITY RUNS IN THE FAMILY

Wednesday, February 24, 8:00 – 9:30pm

NAOMI ELIANA POMMIER STEINBERG / Goosefeather: Once Upon a Cartographic Adventure
MYRIAM STEINBERG / Catalogue Baby: A Memoir of (In)fertility
Moderator: Lani Brunn

Get Tickets

NAOMI ELIANA POMMIER STEINBERG / Goosefeather: Once Upon a Cartographic Adventure  Purchase the book
What begins as an effort to understand family history becomes a joyous and surprising round-the-world adventure, as a renowned storyteller attempts to query whether art can cross physical, cultural and emotional borders.

Storyteller and performer Naomi Steinberg’s pilgrimage starts in Rousillon, the small French village where her grandfather saved her Jewish grandmother from the Nazis in World War II.
Goosefeather is a remarkable travelogue and memoir, chronicling Steinberg’s 382 day adventure around the world by road and rail, land and sea (without air travel), performing a playful and profound one-woman show that questions the very nature of modern connection. Candid and compassionate, Goosefeather shares the ups and downs of an extraordinary year of global travel and an uplifting look at how stories can resonate across even the most enormous distances – thus bringing us all closer together.

NAOMI STEINBERG is an internationally recognized artist and storyteller. Of French and Jewish descent, she has brought traditional folk stories, fairy tales and community-based art projects to life in countries around the world since 2001. Goosefeather is her first book.

SPONSORED BY DANIELLA GIVON AND BERNARD PINSKY

MYRIAM STEINBERG / Catalogue Baby: A Memoir of (In)fertility  |   Purchase the book  OR  Purchase the book
Illustrator: CHRISTACHE

A deeply moving, tragicomic graphic memoir about a single woman’s efforts to conceive. A few months after Myriam turned forty, she decided she couldn’t wait any longer to become a mother and made the difficult decision to begin the process of conceiving a child without a partner, with her family and friends to support her.

But in her journey Myriam experienced the soaring highs and devastating lows of becoming pregnant and then losing her babies. She experienced first-hand the silences, loneliness, and taboos that come with experiences of fetal loss. Unafraid to publicize her experiences, she found that friends and strangers alike started sharing their own fertility stories with her. Catalogue Baby is one woman’s story of tragedy and beating the odds, and a resource for all women and couples who are trying to conceive.

MYRIAM STEINBERG is currently a writer. In her past life, she was a visual artist, and event organizer. For 11 years, she ran the In the House Festival, which brought live performances into people’s living rooms and backyards in Vancouver. Myriam was nominated for the YWCA Women of Distinction Award for her work on the festival.

CHRISTACHE is an illustrator, writer, actor and youth instructor in BC.

LANI BRUNN is a photographer, social planner, bicycle commuter and avid recycler in Vancouver.

CLOSING NIGHT

ICONIC ACTRESS

Thursday, February 25, 5:00pm 

TOVAH FELDSHUH / Lilyville: Mother, Daughter, and Other Roles I’ve Played

Ticket + signed book: $52 – Get Tickets

“Welcome To Lilyville, where my mother Lily reigns. Lily, who gave birth to this adrenaline junkie, perfectionist daughter. Lilyville, where, when I wanted to go to Julliard, Lily said, “You’re not going to a trade school!”

In this deeply personal book, Tovah chronicles the highs and lows of a theatrical, film, and television career that has spanned over five decades. Her evolving mother-daughter relationship reflects American cultural changes and the world’s shifting expectations of women. We see a daughter performing her heart out to gain her mother’s approval and a mother becoming liberated from her confining roles with time.

Chock-full of hilarious anecdotes, including a Supreme Court Justice RBG moment (the last great part Tovah played before the pandemic), all these roles took place in Lilyville, witnessed by its monarch during her robust 103 years on this planet.

“So, come on in. I’m Jewish, we are all about schmoozing. Well, schmoozing and suffering. Well, schmoozing, suffering, and guilt. (I hope you buy this book.)”

TOVAH FELDSHUH is an American actress, singer, and playwright. She has been a Broadway star for more than four decades, a six-time Emmy & Tony nominee, acted in numerous films and was awarded three honorary Doctorates. Her recent award-winning performance as Prime Minister Golda Meir in Golda’s Balcony was made into a film.

Please note: the signed book will be shipped to ticket holders after April 13, 2021 publication date.

SPONSORED BY THE LUTSKY FAMILIES

EPILOGUE

FILM AND TALKBACK

Sunday, February 28, 5:00-6:00pm

Director JOSEPH LOVETT
With author MARY MORRIS

WATCH THE TRAILER

TICKETS: $18. Get tickets

IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THE BOULDER JCC

The Children of the Inquisition film looks at what happened to the families forced to convert to Catholicism or flee during the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions through the eyes of their contemporary descendants, many of whom are just discovering their often-nuanced Jewish roots. The film’s storytellers uncover the connections between their family’s journeys and this buried history.

Join Executive Producer and Director of the film, Joseph Lovett, for a talk back with award-winning novelist Mary Morris about this fascinating film that challenges our ideas about history, identity, and possibly our understanding of Judaism.

JOSEPH LOVETT is an award-winning filmmaker, whose films have informed, engaged and inspired people into action.

MARY MORRIS is the author of 16 books, including Gateway to the Moon. The germ of the idea for this book began over 30 years ago when Morris lived in the Southwest and became aware of the crypto-Jews of New Mexico.