Designed to explore Jewish literature and culture through scholar-led discussions of contemporary and classic books, the Let’s Talk About It: Jewish Literature program at the Kansas City Public Library will explore the theme of Demons, Golems, and Dybbuks: Monsters of the Jewish Imagination over the course of five sessions scheduled for the third Thursday of every month.
Each 60-90 minute session begins at 7 p.m. and will be led by Dr. Ben Furnish, author of Nostalgia in Jewish-American Theatre and Film, 1979-2004. Furnish is also managing editor of BkMk Press and a lecturer in the Department of English at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. All sessions will be limited to 30 attendees. To register for one or more of these sessions call 816.701.3407 or you may RSVP online.
The Kansas City Public Library is one of 83 libraries across the country that received competitively-awarded grants to host the Let’s Talk About It: Jewish Literature program that was developed by Nextbook and the American Library Association (ALA). The majority of the funding will be used to provide program participants with free paperback copies of the five books that will be discussed in the series – Satan in Goray by Isaac Bashevis Singer, The Dybbuk and Other Writings by S. Ansky, The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, The Puttermesser Papers by Cynthia Ozick, and Angels in America by Tony Kushner.
“We are delighted that the ALA has selected us to host this unique book discussion series,” noted Henry Fortunato, director of public affairs at the Kansas City Public Library and lead grant writer for the project. “These five sessions at the Waldo Branch led by Ben Furnish will further our mission of encouraging public dialogue by enabling community members to engage in deep discussion on major themes in Jewish literature.”
“Monster theory is a hot area of literary research now,” added Furnish. “Monster theorists say that these supernatural literary beings can reveal a great deal about evolving cultural identity and difference. Just as medieval England’s Beowulf gives us Grendel and a dragon, so modern Jewish literature gives readers unforgettable figures like Gregor Samsa and a dybbuk, which speak powerfully to audiences making sense of their lives amid the turbulent cultural changes of the 20th century and beyond.”
The first program in the five-part series, scheduled for Thursday, August 21, 2008, will explore Satan in Goray by Isaac Bashevis Singer. An epic story of desperation and religious fervor, this first novel by the Nobel Prize-winning Singer was originally published in Poland in 1935. A dark, chilling tale that clearly reflects the anxieties of its era, Satan in Goray concerns the survivors of a 1648 massacre in an isolated Polish village who become convinced that the Messiah will arrive at any moment. Their high hopes lead to disastrous results.
Registrants for this first program in the series will be able to pick up their free paperback copy of Satan in Goray after July 15, 2008, at the Waldo Branch, 201 E. 75th St.
The remaining dates and books in the Let’s Talk About It: Jewish Literature series at the Waldo Branch include: Thursday, September 18, 2008, The Dybbuk and Other Writings by S. Ansky; Thursday, October 16, 2008, The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka; Thursday, November 20, 2008, The Puttermesser Papers by Cynthia Ozick; and Thursday, December 18, 2008, Angels in America by Tony Kushner.