Ah, December! Season of rampant consumerism, holiday parties you don’t really want to attend, and endless, endless, ENDLESS end-of-year ‘best of’ lists. Luckily the fatigue hasn’t set in yet, so we’re raaaather excited by the New York Times‘ 100 Notable Books of 2014, just released today, which features a bunch of authors interviewed (or reviewed) by Jewcy.
1. Check out Esther Werdiger on Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, Roz Chast’s memoir of parental aging. It’s “an intense, humorous, and frequently painful exercise in catharsis”—well worth the read.
2. Anya Ulinich, author of the deliciously sad, sexy, literary graphic novel Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel, confessed to us that her book was “definitely semi-autobiographical,” and offered male readers some OKCupid profile tips. (Go easy on the Sylvia Plath, fellas.)
3. Boris Fishman, whose superb debut novel A Replacement Life was received to much acclaim, got real with Michael Orbach about Russian hirsuteness, pick-up lines, and the post-Soviet Brooklyn immigrant experience. There’s also a really good (/heartbreaking) anecdote about recycling and perfume, which pretty much encapsulates the tremendous pain of adolescence and immigration.
4. Gary Shteyngart confessed to us that he was “the most Republican kid on the planet”—literally a card-carrying member of the NRA at the age of 11.
5. Yelena Akhtiorskaya, who emigrated to the U.S. in 1992 at the age of 6, told Michael Orbach about the inspiration for her much-praised debut novel, Panic in a Suitcase: “A lot is based on my life… One is being totally fascinated by Brighton Beach—loving it and at the same time realizing that it’s a very absurd and sad place. The second is the dynamics of a claustrophobic, suffocating, chaotic family, which functions as a unified monstrous being.”
Which were your favorite books, Jewish or otherwise, of 2014?