Blog Archive: Editorials


Women’s History Month and Fig Tree Books

Mar 8, 2016

By Erika Dreifus

As you may have been reminded already, March is National Women’s History Month. It’s a good time to remind ourselves of the achievements and contributions of some of our favorite American Jewish women writers—especially on this March day, which is also International Women’s Day.

Workshop Envy: Where Are the Jewish Writing Classes?

Jan 12, 2016

By Erika Dreifus

The other day, I ran across an ad for an upcoming writing class at the Skirball Center of New York’s Temple Emanu-El. And this isn’t just any writing class. It’s a class for memoirists, to be taught by the acclaimed author Shulem Deen. And it got me thinking—not for the first time—about this question: Where are the Jewish writing classes?

THE BOOK OF STONE: Good—and Essential—for the Jews

Aug 11, 2015

By Erika Dreifus

Around the time that we released Jonathan Papernick’s novel The Book of Stone a few months ago, Jon spoke with writer Rachel Sherman, who wondered about potential reader reactions to the more provocative/controversial aspects of the book. Jon responded, in part:

There’s a part of me that imagines some portion of the Jewish readership may see this book as “bad for the Jews,” which I think is a ridiculous idea to begin with, but it would be an excellent starting point for a very important conversation about extremism.

I’ll admit that a tinge of guilt ran through me as I read Jon’s words. That’s because, “ridiculous idea” or not, I, too, had worried that some readers might find a key aspect of the novel—a young man’s growing allegiance to a group of Jewish extremists and the group’s criminal project—at best, distasteful; at worst, yes, “bad for the Jews.”

When Diversity Begins At Home

Dec 16, 2014

By Erika Dreifus

“We need diverse books.” This worthy claim grows ever louder, sparking hashtags and crowdfunding campaigns. Let us leave aside for the moment the dispiriting observation that Jewish literature, broadly speaking, is too frequently under-emphasized in “diversity” discussions. What I want to focus on—with energy and enthusiasm—is the diversity within American Jewish literature itself, a rich variety of experience set on the page that becomes more apparent to me all the time.

Take the latest addition to our freelance review project: Julie R. Enszer’s piece on two novels by Judith Katz. I’ll admit that until just a few years ago, I’d read virtually no Jewish fiction that depicted experiences of LGBTQ characters, as these novels do.

Dramatic Change in the Book Publishing Industry

Sep 8, 2014

By Fredric Price

The book industry is in a period of significant change, brought about in great part by the following set of occurrences in recent years:

  • the rise of Amazon.com as a disruptive influence on book distribution, promotion, and pricing;
  • the introduction of e-readers that have altered the way that books are purchased, promoted and read;
  • the consolidation of traditional publishers through mergers that has set a premium on big brands (i.e., authors) that can generate large and repetitive market shares;
  • the advent of new social media tools (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, Google +, Pinterest, Digg, Tumblr, StumbleUpon, Reddit, etc. and especially those tools aimed expressly at the book industry, including Goodreads, Shelfari and LibraryThing) that are not part of the lexicon for many readers and marketers;
  • the use of electronic tools that enable self-publishing;
  • and the general decline in reading over the last few decades due to a myriad of other entertainment activities now available through multiple portable platforms.