Save the date: 2nd—7th May 2020

Dear Fellow Book Lovers,
As we enter the last month of 2019, I would like to reflect on the events, accolades and achievements for Melbourne Jewish Book Week and its writers for the year. We were privileged to host outstanding international writers and activists Ariel Burger and Deborah Lipstadt. It was terrific to see so many of our supporters in the audience at Melbourne Writers Festival’s Lipstadt event, which we supported in partnership with the Wheeler Centre. At JIFF, MJBW’s co-programming manager Tali Lavi and performers Freydi Mrocki, David Krycer and Lionel Mrocki delighted a full house with their odes to Leonard Cohen prior to the screening of Leonard and Marianne.
In a year of literary achievements close to home, MJBW board member Joe Reich launched My Sackful of Memories, and our former editor Anna Epstein realised her dream, celebrating the publication of her new book Melekh Ravitsh: The Eccentric Outback Quest of an Urbane Yiddish Poet from Poland, before a capacity crowd organised by our cultural partner Kadimah. Well deserved recognition was accorded to Bram Presser and Maria Tumarkin as their award-winning books crossed the oceans to reach new international audiences. We would like to congratulate Maria for her book Axiomatic, named one of the New Yorker’s Top Ten Books of 2019.
We are currently in the throes of finalising details for the forthcoming Melbourne Jewish Book Week in May. As a prelude to this much-anticipated week, international award-winning author of The Cut Out Girl, Bart van Es will appear exclusively for MJBW on Wednesday 4th March, in his only Melbourne appearance. Details of this event will be released via our e-news early in 2020. 
Thank you to our hard-working team at Melbourne Jewish Book Week, including Board and Committee members, whose passion for literature enables us to provide you, our enthusiastic supporters, with a broad world of Jewish reading. Our gratitude is extended to our generous financial supporters and cultural partners for working with us and to our wonderful writers without whom none of this would be possible.
On behalf of everyone at MJBW, we wish you and your families a safe and enjoyable summer, and a Happy Hanukkah to those who celebrate the Festival of Light. We are delighted to feature a carefully picked selection of books to be savoured over your holidays.

Warm regards
Esther Kister, Chair MJBW 


2018 Costa Literary Award

The Cut Out Girl: A Story of War and Family, Lost and Found

by Bart Van Es

A deeply moving and extraordinary story of the life of a Jewish girl Lien de Jong, hidden from the Nazis in various homes of an underground network of foster families which included Bart’s grandparents. What follows is the author’s journey to find Lien, who survived the war, and solve the mystery of his family’s post-war estrangement of her. The Cut Out Girl is a carefully structured story of individual lives against the broader historical explanations about the Netherlands during World War Two.

2019 Winner JQ Literary Prize


No Place to Lay One's Head

by Francoise Frenkel

This rediscovered memoir by a Jewish bookseller is a vital eyewitness account of Vichy France. Written from the safety of Switzerland, where it was first published in 1945, Frenkel’s voice has found a new audience in this new edition, with a preface by Nobel laureate Patrick Modiano, and a dossier of documents prepared by Frédéric Maria (which includes the initial review of the book).

Melekh Ravitsh: The Eccentric Quest of an Urbane Yiddish Poet from Poland

by Anna Epstein

In 1933 an eccentric Yiddish poet Melekh Ravitsh, took a 90 Box Brownie camera and traversed the Australian outback from Adelaide to Darwin in search of a homeland for the direly threatened Jews of Europe. Decades later Ravitsh’s son, the artist Yosl Bergner was inspired by his father’s photographs to make a series of paintings. Curator and writer, Anna Epstein has combined the stories and images of this wildly imaginative pair and their prescient recognition of the common fate of Indigenous Australians and persecuted European Jews into a glorious and moving publication.


Highly recommended by Bram Presser

Feast Your Eyes

by Myla Goldberg

Goldberg follows up her international bestseller, Bee Season, with this morally complex story of art, motherhood and ambition. Based loosely on a true story, and set against the restrictive social mores of post-War America, it charts the meteoric rise and spectacular fall of photographer Lillian Preston. Goldberg brilliantly presents the book as an annotated catalogue to a posthumous exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. A beautifully challenging, but ultimately redemptive and moving read.

Highly recommended by Tali Lavi

The Topeka School

by Ben Lerner

The Topeka School is simultaneously the last and also the prequel to Ben Lerner’s acclaimed trilogy (Leaving the Atocha Station, 10:4). Adam Gordon, Lerner’s fictional alter ego, appears as his adolescent self and as a father in this seething poetic novel. Time, along with language, collapses and unfolds like a concertina in this polyphonic foray into toxic masculinity and family and societal dynamics.

All This Could Be Yours

by Jami Attenberg

A novel of family secrets. All This Could Be Yours is a timely, piercing exploration of what it means to be caught in the web of a toxic man who abused his power; it shows how those webs can tangle a family for generations and what it takes to - maybe, hopefully - break free. With her signature and incisive wit, Jamie Attenberg deftly explores one of the most important subjects of our age.

2018 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction
Highly recommended by Tali Lavi


by Joan Silber

In Joan Silber’s hands, storytelling is distilled and elevated so that reading her novels is a joyous experience. Improvement is a finely woven work - mirroring the Turkish carpets that appear within it - of interconnecting stories, each inflected with compassion, humour and a pulsating humanity. 


Mirka Mora: A Life Making Art

by Sabine Cotte

With privileged access to the artist and her studio, Sabine Cotte offers a new perspective on this extraordinary woman, illuminating Mirka’s significance as one of Australia’s most compelling, creative and prolific artists.


Present Tense: Anna Schwartz Gallery and Thirty-Five Years of Contemporary Australian Art

by Doug Hall

This visually stunning volume combines historical vignette, interviews, and hundreds of archival photographs and artworks. Told with wit and verve, it reveals a story that arcs from the journeys of immigrants who make up Australia’s rich cultural life to the local artistic scenes of Melbourne to the global stage of the art world.


  • Heart of Violence: Why People Harm Each Other by Paul Valent
  • Special Text Classics edition of Cafe Schehezerade by Arnold Zable with a foreward by Bram Presser

Happy reading everyone!

If you wish to contact us, please email

Melbourne Jewish Book Week, 2nd—7th May 2020
Copyright © 2019 Melbourne Jewish Book Week, All rights reserved.

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