Melbourne Jewish
Book Week

Watch: Event Videos

Book Chat: Lee Kofman on ‘The Writer Laid Bare’

Friday February 10, 2023

In this wide-ranging Book Chat, author Lee Kofman discusses the inspiration behind The Writer Laid Bare — a work that is both reflective memoir and practical guide aimed at writers and deep readers. She shares her love of Chekhov, Ferrante and Knausgård, and her theory of writers as ‘builders or renovators’.

Book Chat: Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus on ‘Fancy Meeting You Here’

Monday October 10, 2022

Ali and Michelle have been best friends for life. As ten year olds, they could be found ditching play time for writing club. Now, they write books together. ‘Fancy Meeting You Here’ is their latest novel — a charming and unconventional love story about trying to rewrite history. In this Book Chat, Ali and Michelle…

Book Chat: June Factor on ‘Soldiers and Aliens’

Tuesday August 16, 2022

In this Book Chat, June discusses the ‘Employment Companies’, a uniquely multicultural force in the Army long before the term ‘multicultural’ was coined.

Book Chat: Nina Bassat on ‘Take the Child and Disappear’

Tuesday April 19, 2022

In this Book Chat, Nina Bassat not only explores her family’s experiences before, during and after the Shoah, and contemplates how being a child survivor has shaped her life, she also discusses the process of writing a memoir, and how it draws in other family members.

Book Chat: Margaret Taft on ‘Leo and Mina Fink: For the Common Good’

Tuesday April 19, 2022

Leo and Mina Fink’s contribution to Australian Jewry is well known but this book is the first that concentrates on their shared contribution, rather than individual efforts.

Book Chat: Anna Cidor on ‘The Boy Who Stepped Through Time’

Tuesday October 12, 2021

In her book chat, Anna discusses The Boy Who Stepped Through Time, her time-slip adventure about a boy transported back 1700 years to Roman times. She explores the complexity — and tremendous fun! — of weaving plot, character development and historical fact into her work.SHOW LESS

Book Chat: Michelle Wright on ‘Small Acts of Defiance’

Tuesday October 12, 2021

In her book chat, Michelle discusses Small Acts of Defiance, the story of a young woman who leaves Australia for France in 1940, immediately prior to the Occupation. Michelle explores why she was personally drawn to telling this story, and how themes of family and loyalty — on both a personal and larger level — formed the basis for the work.

Book Chat: Danielle Celermajer on ‘Summertime’

Tuesday October 12, 2021

Professor Danielle Celermajer is a philosopher, and Professor of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Sydney. Her books include Sins of the Nation and the Ritual of Apology and The Prevention of Torture: An Ecological Approach. While her professional and academic background have focused on human rights, she has recently shifted her thinking and activism towards environmental, animal…

Book Chat: Lisa Emanuel on ‘The Covered Wife’

Tuesday October 12, 2021

In her book chat, Lisa discusses The Covered Wife, a fictional examination of the choice made by a young woman choosing to shift from secularism to living by the Torah — and a parallel exploration of why a group of believers might shift from openness to insularity.

Book Chat: Leah Kaminsky and Meg Keneally on ‘Animals Make Us Human’

Tuesday October 12, 2021

In their book chat, Leah and Meg discuss what inspired them to undertake the creation of Animals Make Us Human, a book about the connections of humans with animals in the natural world — and the process of selecting and working with the incredible authors that contributed to the anthology.

Book Chat: Leon Piterman on ‘Living in COVID Times’

Tuesday October 12, 2021

In his book chat, Leon discusses Living in COVID Times, an exploration of Australia’s COVID-19 experience through a variety of lenses — from the political and economic components of the pandemic, to its effects on our shared social and religious practices — and explores what he considers might be involved in the final shift toward ‘Covid normal’.

Book Chat: Rick Held on ‘Night Lessons in Little Jerusalem’

Saturday August 7, 2021

In his chat, Rick explores the difficult decision to fictionalise his father’s extraordinary story, and takes us on a journey through the Romanian (now Ukranian) city of Czernowitz — his father’s hometown and the setting of Night Lessons in Little Jerusalem.

Book Chat: Joe Reich on ‘Ein Stein: A Novel’

Saturday August 7, 2021

In his book chat, Joe discusses the process of melding fact and fiction in creating the protagonist of his latest work, and how his career as an ophthalmologist led him to the story of Ernst Leitz II — creator of the Leica, and the “photography industry’s Schindler”.

Book Chat: Gabby Leibovich on ‘Catch of the Decade’

Saturday August 7, 2021

In his book chat, Gabby discusses the importance of building a strong workplace culture, hiring ‘intrapreneurs’, and explores the role of trust in business and family life.

Book Chat: Joanne Fedler on ‘Unbecoming’

Saturday August 7, 2021

In her book chat, Joanne explores what motivates her to write about motherhood, and how one’s identity as a mother is challenged as children grow and no longer want or need to be ‘mothered’ — and explains why she celebrates mid-life and menopause as a freeing relief.

Book Chat: Ashley Browne on ‘A Season Like No Other: AFL 2020’

Saturday August 7, 2021

In his book chat, Ashley discusses the AFL’s restricted 2020 pandemic season, the unique challenges faced by an author writing about recent events — and muses about the lasting legacy the events of 2020 may have on the future of Australian rules.

Book Chat: Sue Silberberg on ‘A Networked Community’

Saturday August 7, 2021

In her book chat, Sue Silberberg explores the cultural diversity that made up colonial Melbourne. Sue gives a new slant to Melbourne’s development and connects Melbourne Jewry into wider historical themes and experiences such as space and place, urbanisation, imperial networks and diaspora.

Book Chat: Ilana Kurshan on ‘If All the Seas Were Ink’

Wednesday June 16, 2021

In her book chat, Ilana discusses her experience of learning the Talmud — leading to the very different and new reading she presents in her work.

Book Chat: Ayelet Tsabari on ‘The Art of Leaving’

Wednesday June 16, 2021

In her book chat, Ayelet discusses her experience growing up as a Yemini Jew in Israel, and the conflict between longing for freedom and a sense of home.

Book Chat: Benjamin Balint on ‘Kafka’s Last Trial’

Wednesday June 16, 2021

In his book chat, Benjamin discusses Kafka’s literary afterlife — in particular, how the author’s legacy has become inextricably bound in the stories Germany and Israel tell about themselves.

Book Chat: Nir Baram on ‘At Night’s End’

Wednesday June 16, 2021

In his book chat, Nir explores the unique power of adolescent friendship, and discusses how award-winning translator Jessica Cohen brought ‘the music of the Hebrew’ to the English-language versions of his novels.

Book Chat: Yaniv Iczkovits on ‘The Slaughterman’s Daughter’

Wednesday June 16, 2021

In his book chat, Yaniv explores what he was able to achieve by setting a narrative in late 19th Century Russia, and discusses the concept of ‘tikkun olam’ — ‘repairing the world’.

Book Chat: Orly Castel-Bloom on ‘An Egyptian Novel’

Wednesday June 16, 2021

In this book chat, Orly discusses the complexities of balancing fact and fiction, particularly when it comes to writing family stories, and the importance of capturing the stories of our loved ones before we forget.

Book Chat: Ramona Koval on ‘A Letter to Layla’

Wednesday March 31, 2021

Ramona discusses her new book ‘A Letter to Layla’, in which she travels the world in a quest to understand our deep past — and what may be our near future. In this chat, Ramona outlines her case for optimism for the future.

Book Chat: Sue Smethurst on ‘The Freedom Circus’

Wednesday March 31, 2021

Sue discusses the importance of recording family history, putting her journalistic skills to use on a highly personal project, and the final conversation she wishes she could have with Mindla, her extraordinary grandmother-in-law.

Book Chat: Alice Zaslavsky on ‘In Praise of Veg’

Wednesday March 31, 2021

In her book chat, Alice discusses what drew her to writing ‘In Praise of Veg’, which vegetables get the worst rap, and shares how her Georgian and Jewish heritage influences the way she cooks.

Book Chat: Daniel Lee on ‘The SS Officer’s Armchair’

Wednesday March 31, 2021

In his book chat, Daniel shares the fascinating story of the piece of furniture that serves as the focal point of his latest book, ‘The SS Officer’s Armchair’ — and explores the complexity of historians who find themselves inadvertently part of the stories they’re trying to tell.

Book Chat: Henry Lew on ‘Patterson of Israel’

Wednesday March 31, 2021

In the chat, Henry shares the story of John Henry Patterson, the non-Jewish British army officer who led the ‘Jewish Legion’ during the First World War, and explores the underexplored interactions between the ANZACS and the Jewish troops at Gallipoli and Palestine.

Book Chat: David Slucki on ‘Sing This at My Funeral: A Memoir of Fathers and Sons’

Wednesday March 31, 2021

In his book chat, David Slucki explores what brought him to write his memoir, ‘Sing This at My Funeral: A Memoir of Fathers and Sons’, and shares the history of the Bundists — a Jewish socialist movement, still active in Melbourne, centered on the concept of ‘Doikayt’ or ‘hereness’.

Book Chat: Mark Dapin on ‘Australia’s Vietnam: Myth vs History’

Monday January 11, 2021

In Mark’s book chat, the author discusses his latest work, Australia’s Vietnam: Myth vs History. Was Vietnam a case of Australia fighting ‘other people’s wars’ — and how did the real experiences of veterans differ from our ‘official’ account of their treatment as returnees?

Book Chat: Andy Mia Kranz on ‘The Secret Home’

Monday January 11, 2021

In her book chat, Andy discusses the development of her unique visual style, and balancing tale, allegory and fable against the stark background of war and the Holocaust.

Book Chat: Dennis Altman on ‘Unrequited Love’

Monday January 11, 2021

In Dennis’s book chat, the author discusses his memoir, Unrequited Love — exploring the American and Australian influences on his life and writing, and the cultural gap between generations in terms of gay social politics.

Book Chat: Andrea Goldsmith on ‘Invented Lives’

Monday January 11, 2021

In Andrea’s book chat, the author discusses her latest novel, Invented Lives, a story of identity and exile. How do we ‘invent’ our lives, and is it possible to be exiles within our native countries?

Book Chat: Philip Salom on ‘The Returns’

Monday January 11, 2021

In Philip’s book chat, the award-winning author discusses his latest novel, The Returns, a story about the eccentricities, failings and small triumphs that humans are capable of.

Book Chat: Anna Epstein on ‘Melekh Ravitsh’

Monday January 11, 2021

In her book chat, Anna explores her work of non-fiction — Melekh Ravitsh: The Eccentric Outback Quest of an Urbane Yiddish Poet from Poland. What was Melekh Ravitsh’s outback quest, and how much did the How much did the modernist art of Yosl Bergner, Ravitsh’s son, influence her decision to write the story?

Book Chat: Miriam Sved on ‘A Universe of Sufficient Size’

Monday December 7, 2020

In Miriam Sved’s book chat, the author discusses how the life of her grandmother inspired ‘A Universe of Sufficient Size’, and the process of setting a work between two very disparate locations and time periods: Budapest in the ’30s and Sydney in the early 2000s.

Book Chat: Daniel Ziffer on ‘A Wunch of Bankers’

Monday December 7, 2020

In Daniel Ziffer’s book chat, the journalist discusses the gruelling stories of Australians dudded by trusted banks and financial institutions — and shares what surprised him most about the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry.

Book Chat: Jeff Sparrow on ‘Fascists Among Us: Online Hate and the Christchurch Massacre’

Monday December 7, 2020

In Jeff Sparrow’s book chat, the award-winning writer, editor and broadcaster discusses the 2019 Christchurch massacre, the urgent need to truly fight fascism, and the complexities of far-right responses to climate change.

Book Chat: Suzy Zail on ‘I Am Change’

Monday December 7, 2020

In Suzy Zail’s book chat, the author of ‘I am Change’ discusses the decision to write about the lives of young women in Uganda, opting for fiction over biography, and writing to empower young women In Australia and Africa.

Book Chat: Suzanne Leal on ‘The Deceptions’

Tuesday December 1, 2020

In Suzanne Leal’s book chat, the writer discusses the responsibilities an author has when writing a novel about the Holocaust, and whether it’s ever really possible for an author to leave one’s stories and characters behind.

Book Chat: Ginger Gorman on ‘Troll Hunting’

Monday November 23, 2020

In Ginger Gorman’s book chat, the award-winning journalist — and author of ‘Troll Hunting’ — discusses the spectre of online harassment. Blending both personal experience and rigorous research, Gorman explores the concept of trolling, and highlights strategies to make technology companies accountable to the public good.