The list author is Michelle Anne Schingler, a former librarian and Hebrew school teacher, is an associate editor at ForeWord Reviews. Michelle introduces her list with a personal comment about why she compiled the list:
Reading through the diverse and ever-expanding Jewish literary canon is a natural way to work toward understanding a community that, while comparatively small, is incredibly diverse. This list draws Jewish voices in from all corners of the diaspora, from several continents as well as from Israel itself. The voices on it have different conceptions of what it means to be Jewish; some of these novels embrace the tradition self-consciously, some are more ambivalent about it, and some don’t mention religious traditions at all.
Carolivia Herron is an active member of her synagogue, Tifereth Israel of Washington, DC, and is the synagogue’s liaison for Social Action programs in Africa. She is president of North Washington Neighbors Inc., an organization that works for racial equality in housing and education.
She is also President of Epic Publishing, a program of the Street to Street EpicCenter Stories. The program is supported by her synagogue and publishes the works of Jewish members of a village in Africa.
Asenath and the Origin of Nappy Hair is a comic novel that relates how the life of Shirah Shulamit Ojero, African American graduate student at the University of Penn Forest intersects with Asenath, the Egyptian daughter of a priest who married Joseph in ancient Biblical times. Shirah is an African American Jew who is unable to complete her dissertation on the ancient Egyptian Asenath because she (Shirah) keeps falling into her books and mingling with the epic heroines and heroes she is studying. The problem is solved when the epic poets, led by John Milton, sail to the future and write the dissertation for Shirah.
Always An Olivia retells Herron’s family story heard from her 103 year old Great Grandmother Olivia when Carolivia was nine years old. This children’s book describes the importance of her name in her family and her Jewish and the story of her West African (Geechee) ancestors, including the kidnapping of her Sephardic Jewish ancestor Sarah by Barbary pirates.
From November 3, 2014 through January 1, 2015, I’ll be posting excerpts from my latest novel, Asenath and the Origin of Nappy Hair. Please click on Asenath in the menu above, or go to carolivia.com/asenath to read these excerpts in order. The novel is in the proof stage right now but will be available for purchase online and in bookstores by December 1, 2014.