Fig Tree Books Announces Imprint and Spring 2015 List

September 22, 2014

Contact: Angela Baggetta, Goldberg McDuffie Communications



Press will launch with books by National Public Radio’s Alan Cheuse
and famed author Meyer Levin as well as novels by Jonathan Papernick and Jessamyn Hope


NEW YORK, NY (September 22, 2014)— Fig Tree Books, a new publishing house focusing on literary fiction exploring the diverse American Jewish experience, announced its inaugural list for the spring 2015 season.

The four books on Fig Tree’s first list are PRAYERS FOR THE LIVING by National Public Radio (NPR) commentator Alan Cheuse (March), COMPULSION by the noted author and playwright Meyer Levin (April), THE BOOK OF STONE by critically-acclaimed writer Jonathan Papernick (May) and SAFEKEEPING, a debut novel by Jessamyn Hope (June).

“Our plan is to publish about a dozen novels each year,” said Fredric Price, Founder and Publisher, “including books from first-time authors, from those who have published previously, and from authors whose books could be considered as classic fiction from the twentieth century. At the outset, we are focusing exclusively on literary fiction in novel form, but might consider branching out to include novellas, novels-in-stories or memoirs in the future. We have the appropriate resources in place, including an organization of dedicated, resourceful people who have both an entrepreneurial flair and a mindset that allows them to think creatively as it pertains to all activities of the Company, including editorial, marketing, operations and administration.”

Publishers Group West and Constellation will distribute Fig Tree’s print and e-books, respectively.

While the books that Fig Tree plans to publish inform the American Jewish experience, the Company interprets this mission broadly. “Our goal is that readers of all faiths and traditions will relate to and appreciate the stories we publish,” said Michelle Caplan, Editor-in-Chief. “Fig Tree will champion emerging and unique voices, and create a place where writers can launch their work with significant support.”


Cheuse’s novel was first released in 1986 but has been revised by the author. Says Cheuse, whose reviews of books for NPR’s ‘All Things Considered’ are heard by millions of listeners, “The inspiration for the re-issuance of this novel grew out of a series of conversations I had with the publisher, in which we discussed the complex lives of early twentieth century immigrants and the repercussions of their personal and professional trials on their descendants as they strived to fit within a new culture. When Fred remarked that the story has every bit of resonance today, I decided to make some changes, a luxury that few authors get to experience, and proposed that Fig Tree take on the responsibility of re-publishing the book to a new audience.”


Reissuing Meyer Levin’s ground-breaking 1956 book about the first ‘trial of the century’ (based on a crime that took place in 1924) will re-introduce a novel – that in many ways presaged the non-fiction novel – to a whole new generation of Americans who grew up watching serious crime programs ‘ripped from the headlines.’ This runaway bestseller (it sold more than 1.1 million copies) is a fictional take on the murder of fourteen year-old Bobby Franks by older teenagers Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb.  But it is much more than the recapitulation of a terrible crime – it is the inexplicable story of the two young men who are fascinated with the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche’s Übermenschen (Supermen), who created their own values and believed that they lived above conventional morality.

Gabriel Levin, son of Meyer Levin and author of the introduction to the new edition said, “It may not be exaggerated to say that my father belonged to a generation of writers who witnessed and drew upon the major, cataclysmic events of their times in their writings. One has only to think of Steinbeck, Hemingway, Martha Gellhorn, John Hersey, William Golding, the younger William Styron and Norman Mailer. So too COMPULSION, though on the surface a psychological thriller, should be read as well as an extended meditation on the darker side of humanity in the wake of the Holocaust, the latter never quite loosening its hold on my father’s imagination.”


THE BOOK OF STONE by Jonathan Papernick, is a searing psychological thriller set in pre-9/11 Brooklyn which examines the evolution of the terrorist mentality and the complexities of religious extremism. Lyrical and incendiary, THE BOOK OF STONE is a masterfully crafted novel that will reveal the ambiguities of ‘good’ and ‘evil’.


Jessamyn Hope’s SAFEKEEPING is a profound and moving novel about love, loss, unimaginable destruction and the courage it takes to start over. The fates of six troubled characters become entangled by the confines of a kibbutz, by love and hate, by shared and irreconcilable dreams. At the center of this web is a mysterious sapphire brooch with a fascinating and perilous backstory spanning three continents and seven centuries of Jewish history.

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