Books

8 Canadian books to read for Jewish Heritage Month

May is Jewish Heritage Month in Canada. Here are some great books by Canadian Jewish writers.

May is Jewish Heritage Month in Canada. Here are eight books by Canadian Jewish writers to check out.

Immigrant City by David Bezmozgis

Immigrant City is a short story collection by David Bezmozgis. (HarperCollins Canada)

In the stories of Immigrant City, a wannabe boxer finds work as a security guard in the Toronto suburbs, a father and daughter end up in a strange rendition of his immigrant childhood and a young man unwittingly makes contact with the underworld. A past Scotiabank Giller Prize finalist, David Bezmozgis's previous books, Natasha and Other Stories and The Betrayers, were hits with critics and readers alike. 

Flawed by Andrea Dorfman

Andrea Dorfman is a filmmaker and animator based in Nova Scotia. (Firefly Books, andreadorfman.com)

In this autobiographical comic, Andrea Dorfman surprises herself by falling in love with a plastic surgeon from the East Coast. Having struggled with accepting her appearance — she was bullied in school for having a big nose — Dorfman feels conflicted about the fact that Dave makes people "beautiful" for a living. Despite these reservations, a long-distance courtship blooms into a beautiful romance and helps Dorfman overcome her insecurities.

By Chance Alone Max Eisen

Max Eisen is the author of By Chance Alone. (CBC)

When Max Eisen was 15 years old, he and his family were taken from their home to Auschwitz, where Eisen worked as a slave labourer. He survived the Holocaust and emigrated to Canada in 1949. Eisen has toured the world, educating people about the horrors he survived during the Second World War. He has recorded his memories in the deeply moving memoir By Chance Alone. Defended by Ziya TongBy Chance Alone won Canada Reads 2019.

Class Mom by Laurie Gelman

Laurie Gelman is a former journalist and the author of the comic novel Class Mom. (Michael Gelman/St. Martin's Press)

Laurie Gelman's Class Mom follows a year in the life of a mother who has to navigate tricky school politics along with special requests to bring brownies to curriculum night. The humorous novel was a finalist for the 2018 Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour.

At the Strangers' Gate by Adam Gopnik

Adam Gopnik (Penguin Random House/Brigitte Lacombe)

At the Strangers' Gate is a tale of Adam Gopnik's two great loves: his wife Martha and New York City. In 1980, Gopnik and Martha boarded a bus from Montreal to New York to pursue their artistic ambitions. This memoir chronicles their first decade in the city, as Gopnik works to establish himself as a writer. Gopnik is now a contributor to The New Yorker and his previous memoir, Paris to the Moon, was a bestseller.

Masters of Silence by Kathy Kacer

Kathy Kacer is the author of Masters of Silence. (Annick Press)

This novel for middle-grade readers follows Helen and Henry, Jewish siblings who have been spirited away from Nazi Germany and left in the care of strangers in France. There, they meet a local mime — a not-yet-famous Marcel Marceau — who will risk his life to rescue the children after an informer gives them up.

Heroes in my Head by Judy Rebick

Judy Rebick is the author of Heroes in My Head. (Ben Holbrook/National Speakers Bureau, House of Anansi Press)

Feminist advocate Judy Rebick was at the forefront of the the pro-choice movement in Canada in the 1980s and shortly thereafter became president of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women. During this time, Rebick developed 11 different personalities, a coping mechanism, she later learned, to block out traumatic memories of childhood sexual abuse. Heroes in My Head is Rebick's memoir of this tumultuous period of her life, fighting both public battles and personal demons.

The Art of Leaving by Ayelet Tsabari

The Art of Leaving is a nonfiction book by Ayelet Tsabari. (HarperCollins Canada, Jonathan Bloom)

After finishing her two mandatory years in the Israel Defense Forces and in the midst of grieving her father's death, Ayelet Tsabari leaves Tel Aviv to travel through India, Europe, the U.S. and Canada. Moving quickly through homes and cities, Tsabari eventually starts making trips back to Israel and digs deep into her Jewish-Yemeni background and Mizrahi identity in ways she'd never done before. Tsabari was a finalist for the 2018 CBC Short Story Prize and won the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature for her debut short story collection, The Best Place on Earth.

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