What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank

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Article in Themes and Reading Activities categories.

JMRL's Same Page is a community reading program to promote and discuss one book throughout March 2018 by an author featured at the [Virginia Festival of the Book http://www.vabook.org/]. JMRL invites all book lovers in Central Virginia to join this reading initiative. Read and discuss What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank by Nathan Englander and participate in programs about the book, its themes, and its author. The author will be at JMRL's Northside Library on March 22nd at 6pm, and this event will be free and open to the public.

We've selected a list of books, movies, and music in the JMRL collection that will inspire further exploration and enhance your reading. Find more resources and discussion questions for this book in []. Find information on programs, contests and more by visiting the NEA Big Read at JMRL.

About the Author

Nathan Englander is Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at New York University, and lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife and daughter. His most recent book is the novel Dinner at the Center of the Earth. In addition to this year's Same Page selection, he is the author of the internationally bestselling story collection For the Relief of Unbearable Urges, and the novel The Ministry of Special Cases. He was the 2012 recipient of the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award and a finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for What We Talk About. His short fiction and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, and The Washington Post, as well as The O. Henry Prize Stories and numerous editions of The Best American Short Stories, including 100 Years of the Best American Short Stories. Translated into 20 languages, Englander was selected as one of “20 Writers for the 21st Century” by The New Yorker, received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a PEN/Malamud Award, the Bard Fiction Prize, and the Sue Kaufman Prize from the American Academy of Arts & Letters. He’s been a fellow at the Dorothy & Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, and at The American Academy of Berlin. In 2012, along with the publication of his new collection, Englander's play The Twenty-Seventh Man premiered at The Public Theater, and his translation New American Haggadah (edited by Jonathan Safran Foer) was published by Little Brown. He also co-translated Etgar Keret's Suddenly A Knock on the Door, published by FSG.

Read Englander's biography on his webpage.

Read an article by the author "What Jewish Children Learned from Charlottesville" from the NY Times

Listen to CBC Radio Interview with Nathan Englander

Read NPR's interview with Nathan Englander about his new novel Dinner at the Center of the Earth.

Works by Nathan Englander

Related Reading - Fiction

  • F Hepworth, Sally
THE MOTHER'S PROMISE
A single mother dying of cancer requests the help of her nurse and a social worker to protect her teen daughter, who is battling her own inner demons.

This list of adult fiction related reading includes short story Masters, Jewish-American Themes, Israel Themes and trusting neighbors.

  • What We Talk about when We Talk about Love by Raymond Carver
  • Hope : a Tragedy by Shalom Auslander
  • To the End of the Land by David Grossman
  • Five Carat Soul by James McBride
  • Fresh Complaint by Jeffrey Eugenides (new short stories)
  • The Mountain by Paul Yoon (new short stories)
  • Collected Stories of Isaac Bashevis Singer
  • The Property, by Rutu Modan (graphic novel)
  • Eternal Life by Dara Horn
Amother in Roman Jerusalem makes a spiritual bargain to save her dying infant’s life - she then lives for 2,000 years. Includes “historical detail [of Jewish history] and down-to-earth humor” and “thoughtful meditation on the meaning of life”.
  • Three Floors Up by Eshkol Nevo
Reviewed in NYT, indicates many similar themes (parenthood, neighbors, humor & cutting commentary together), in a modern Israeli context
  • Ruined House by Ruby Namdar
Andrew P. Cohen, a successful NYU professor of comparative culture, is suddenly plagued with strange and inexplicable visions of an ancient religious ritual. As his superficially perfect world begins to unravel, he is forced to question his beliefs. Interspersed throughout the novel are pages from an ancient (pseudo)Talmudic text, harking back to the golden age of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Hidden in this frenzied, semi-opaque other narrative lies the mysterious key to understanding the drama of Andrew's life.

Related Reading - Nonfiction

  • 92 Angelou, Maya
MOM & ME & MOM
This focus on the larger-than-life mother of Maya Angelou, and the relationship they shared, highlights the complicated relationship between mother and daughter.

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren F. Winner Flying Couch: A Graphic Memoir by Amy Kurzweil How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less by Sarah Glidden Memoirs by Deborah Feldman: Unorthodox and Exodus Footnotes in Gaza - Sacco Kingdom of olives and ash : writers confront the occupation The community table : recipes and stories from the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan and beyond / JCC Manhattan Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi King Solomon's table : a culinary exploration of Jewish cooking from around the world / Joan Nathan Ordinary Jews: Choice and Survival During the Holocaust - Evgeny Finkel The Book of Separation by Tova Mirvis Jewish Comedy: A Serious History Something Beautiful Happened: A Story of Survival and Courage in the Face of Evil, by Yvette Manessis Corporon The Skeptic and the Rabbi: Falling in Love With Faith, by Judy Gruen (counterposes with memoirs like Deborah Feldman’s “Unorthodox”) Maybe Esther / Katja Petrowskaja - (o/o 1/2018) - woman traces family members in eastern Europe, meditations on how history affects a family, how to tell stories when you don’t know what happened; family members went underground or were killed by Nazis. Hell's Traces: One Murder, Two Families, Thirty-five Holocaust Memorials, by Victor Ripp - in addition to Holocaust remembrance, this one is interesting b/c it talks about how public memorials/monuments can be made political - relation to local statue talks? (o/o 12/2017) The Last Girl, by Nadia Murad - the NYTBR headlines their review of this “replaying the Holocaust in the Middle East” - it tells the story of a woman escaping capture by IS agents in Iraq with the help of a Sunni man, whose life and family then become targets - plays directly into the question of how far someone will go to help hide/rescue someone else - seems like it would make for very good, timely discussion The Holocaust: a New History, by Laurence Rees (shortlisted for the JQ Wingate Prize)


Movies and Music

  • Barber Shop
  • Beauty Shop


Books for Teens

TEEN READ SELECTION: MAKE LEMONADE by Virginia Euwer Wolff

RELATED READS:

  • YA Arnold, David
MOSQUITOLAND
When she learns that her mother is sick in Ohio, Mim confronts her demons on a thousand-mile odyssey from Mississippi that redefines her notions of love, loyalty, and what it means to be sane
  • YA Booth, Coe
KENDRA
High schooler Kendra longs to live with her mother who, unprepared for motherhood at age fourteen, left Kendra in the care of her grandmother.
  • YA Bowers, Laura
BEAUTY SHOP FOR RENT: FULLY EQUIPPED, INQUIRE WITHIN
Raised by a great-grandmother and a bunch of beauty shop buddies, fourteen-year-old Abbey resolves to overcome her unhappy childhood and disillusionment with the mother who deserted her.
  • YA Draper, Sharon
FORGED BY FIRE
Teenage Gerald, who has spent years protecting his fragile half-sister from their abusive father, faces the prospect of one final confrontation before the problem can be solved.
  • YA Flake, Sharon
THE SKIN I’M IN
Thirteen-year-old Maleeka, uncomfortable because her skin is extremely dark, meets a new teacher with a birthmark on her face and makes some discoveries about to love who she is and what she looks like.
  • YA Flying
FLYING LESSONS AND OTHER STORIES ed. By Ellen Oh
From basketball dreams and family fiascos to first crushes and new neighborhoods, this anthology, written by award-winning children's authors, celebrates the uniqueness and universality in all of us.
  • YA Hunt, Lynda Mullaly
ONE FOR THE MURPHYS
After heartbreaking betrayal, Carley is sent to live with a foster family and struggles with opening herself up to their love
  • YA Kadohata, Cynthia
OUTSIDE BEAUTY
Thirteen-year-old Shelby and her three sisters must go to live with their respective fathers while their mother, who has trained them to rely on their looks, recovers from a car accident that scarred her face.
  • YA Knowles, Johanna
PEARL
After fifteen-year-old Bean's beloved grandfather Gus dies, she discovers uncomfortable secrets about him, her mother, and the father she has never known.
  • YA Madonia, Kristen-Page
FINGERPRINTS OF YOU
After spending her life moving from place to place with her single mother, pregnant seventeen-year-old Lemon takes a bus to San Francisco to seek the father she never knew, as well as truths about her mother and herself.
  • YA McDonald, Janet
OFF-COLOR
Fifteen-year-old Cameron living with her single mother in Brooklyn finds her search for identity further challenged when she discovers that she is the product of a biracial relationship
  • YA Nelson, Jandy
I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN
Inseparable twins Noah and Jude are torn apart by jealousy and family tragedy. Their story is told in alternating chapters, with Noah’s story when the twins are thirteen and Jude’s chapters at sixteen.
  • YA Oates, Joyce Carol
FREAKY GREEN EYES
Fifteen-year-old Frankie relates the events of the year leading up to her mother's mysterious disappearance and her own struggle to discover and accept the truth about her parents' relationship.
  • YA Sharenow, Rob
MY MOTHER THE CHEERLEADER
Thirteen-year-old Louise uncovers secrets about her family and her neighborhood during the violent protests over school desegregation in 1960 New Orleans.
  • YA Smith, Sherri L.
FLYGIRL
Ida Mae, an eighteen-year-old light-skinned African American, passes herself off as a white woman and has to hide her pilot father’s identity in order to be allowed to fly as a member of the Women Airforce Service Pilots during World War II.
  • YA Sonnenblick, Jordan
FALLING OVER SIDEWAYS
Harassed at her middle school, not taken seriously at home, and with a "perfect" older brother, Matthew, to live up to, thirteen-year-old Claire has always felt like her life was cursed--then one morning, when she and her beloved father are talking at breakfast, her father suddenly falls over with a stroke, and suddenly everything changes.
  • YA Sutton, Kelsey
THE LONELY ONES
The stress of her father's job loss causes Fain to feel invisible at home and in her new school, but she escapes with the monsters of her imagination until a family crisis and a human friend cause her to reconsider.
  • YA Woodson, Jacqueline
AFTER TUPAC & D FOSTER
In the New York City borough of Queens in 1996, three girls bond over their shared love of Tupac Shakur's music, as together they try to make sense of the unpredictable world in which they live.
  • YA Zarr, Sara
HOW TO SAVE A LIFE
Told from their own viewpoints, seventeen-year-old Jill, in grief over the loss of her father, and Mandy, nearly nineteen, are thrown together when Jill's mother agrees to adopt Mandy's unborn child but nothing turns out as they had anticipated.


Books for Youth

LITTLE READ SELECTION: GONE CRAZY IN ALABAMA by Rita Williams Garcia

Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern are off to Alabama to visit their grandmother, Big Ma, and her mother, Ma Charles. Across the way lives Ma Charles's half sister, Miss Trotter. The two half sisters haven't spoken in years. As Delphine hears about her family history, she uncovers the surprising truth that's been keeping the sisters apart. But when tragedy strikes, Delphine discovers that the bonds of family run deeper than she ever knew possible.


Chapter Books

  • J DiCamillo, Kate
RAYMIE NIGHTINGALE
Raymie enters a beauty pageant hoping to win her father’s affection and bring him home and is drawn into unlikely friendships with her competition.
  • J Frazier, Sundee Tucker
THE OTHER HALF OF MY HEART
When Minerva and Keira King were born, they made headlines: Keira is black like Mama, but Minni is white like Daddy. Together the family might look like part of a chessboard row, but they are first and foremost the close-knit Kings. Then Grandmother Johnson calls, to invite the twins down South to compete for the title of Miss Black Pearl Preteen of America. Minni dreads the spotlight, but Keira assures her that together they'll get through their stay with Grandmother Johnson. But when their grandmother's bias against Keira reveals itself, Keira pulls away from her twin. Minni has always believed that no matter how different she and Keira are, they share a deep bond of the heart. Now she'll find out whether that’s really true.
  • J Greenwald, Lisa
MY LIFE IN PINK AND GREEN
When the family's drugstore is failing, seventh-grader Lucy uses her problem-solving talents to come up with solution that might resuscitate the business, along with helping the environment.
  • J Kelly, Erin Entrada
THE LAND OF FORGOTTEN GIRLS
Abandoned by their father and living in poverty with their heartless stepmother in Louisiana, two sisters from the Philippines, twelve-year-old Sol and six-year-old Ming, learn the true meaning of family.
  • J Kline, Lisa Williams
WINTER’S TIDE
Building a family is hard, especially with stepsisters who are complete opposites. During the bleak and dreary days of winter, Diana continues to be bullied at school, Stephanie continues hiding a painful secret, and both their lives are shaken by two tragic accidents.
  • J Leal, Ann Haywood
A FINDERS-KEEPERS PLACE
As their mother’s manic-depression worsens, sisters Esther and Ruth search for their father, a preacher who left them seven years earlier in 1966.
  • J Paulsen, Gary
LIAR, LIAR: THE THEORY, PRACTICE, AND DESTRUCTIVE PROPERTIES OF DECEPTION
Fourteen-year-old Kevin is very good at lying and doing so makes life easier, but when he finds himself in big trouble with his friends, family, and teachers, he must find a way to end his lies forever.
  • J Pearsall, Shelley
ALL OF THE ABOVE
Five urban middle school students, their teacher, and other community members relate how a school project to build the world's largest tetrahedron affects the lives of everyone involved.
  • J Standiford, Natalie
THE SECRET TREE
After Minty discovers a secret tree with a hollow trunk that holds the secrets of everyone in the neighborhood, Raymond, a new boy drawn to the tree and Minty start watching their neighbors.
  • J Stead, Rebecca
WHEN YOU REACH ME
In 1979, as her mother prepares to be a contestant on a television game show, Miranda tries to make sense of a series of mysterious notes received from an anonymous source that seems to defy the laws of time and space.


Picture Books Featuring Family


  • JP Adoff, Arnold
BLACK IS BROWN IS TAN
Describes and celebrates the life of a multiracial family.
  • JP Coffelt, Nancy
FRED STAYS WITH ME
A little girl with divorced parents describes how her dog, Fred, stays with her no matter what.
  • JP Hughes, Shirley
ANNIE ROSE IS MY LITTLE SISTER
Alfie describes the things that he and his little sister do together.
  • JP Newman
HEATHER HAS TWO MOMMIES
In this classic tale, Heather feels bad that she has two mommies and no daddy when she goes to playgroup, but grows to realize there are all kinds of families.
  • JP Pak, Soyung
DEAR JUNO
A boy receives a letter from his grandmother in Seoul, South Korea
  • JP Parr, Todd
The Family Book
Represents a variety of families, some big and some small, some with only one parent and some with two moms or dads, some quiet and some noisy, but all alike in some ways and special no matter what.
  • JP Piven, Hanoch
MY DOG IS AS SMELLY AS DIRTY SOCKS: AND OTHER FUNNY FAMILY PORTRAITS
Using objects and unique designs to draw the characteristics of her family, a young girl draws her family in a way that is special just to her, including a horn for the mouth of her baby brother and a can of fish attached to her beloved, but stinky, pooch.
  • JP Richardson, Justin & Peter Parnell
AND TANGO MAKES THREE
Two male chinstrap penguins fall in love and raise a baby penguin named Tango together.
  • JP Tarpley, Natasha
BIPPITY BOP BARBERSHOP
A story celebrating an African-American boy’s first trip to the barber shop.
  • JP Williams, Vera
A CHAIR FOR MY MOTHER
The family saves up spare change to buy a new chair for Mother when their home and furniture are destroyed by a fire.
  • JP Woodson, Jacqueline
EACH KINDNESS
When Ms. Albert teaches a lesson on kindness, Chloe realizes that she and her friends have been wrong by making fun of new student Maya's shabby clothes and refusing to play with her.
  • JP 306.85 Hoffman, Mary
THE GREAT BIG BOOK OF KINDNESS
This treasury of stories features diverse families and how they live together.