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Monday, Feb. 13, 2012

Talking About Nathan Englander's New Works

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What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank is a powerful, timeless collection of short stories, captured in exquisite prose. Author Nathan Englander's eight new narratives hit the full range of human emotions as they charismatically explore Jewish identity.

This remarkable compilation opens with the titular tale that pays homage to both Raymond Carver's famous story What We Talk About When We Talk About Love as well as Anne Frank, the well-known 15-year-old who died in Nazi Germany. In Englander's version, two Jewish couples struggle to make sense of religious and ethnic identity by playing a devastating game in which they decide who might hide them and who might betray them were there to be another Holocaust. It is a powerful allegory that explores the notions of right and wrong, guilt and innocence, and victim and oppressor.

Other chronicles look at the history of Israel's settlements on the verge of the Yom Kippur War, revisit the Holocaust, and turn an idyllic summer camp into a possible real-life horror movie. These eight tales shift from absurdist stories to those strongly rooted in reality and range from the West Bank to the United States; most of the stories center around Jewish characters, and all contain an unexpected jolt that throws readers for a loop.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank
is Englander's second short story release. His first collection of works, For the Relief of Unbearable Urges, won widespread acclaim and earned Englander the 2000 PEN/Faulkner Malamud Award. Englander, an alumnus of the Iowa Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa, will speak at Boswell Book Co. on Feb. 21 at 7 p.m.