Literature in a Time of Crisis: A Conversation with Nathan Englander, Marra Gad and Rachel Kadish

literature in a time of crisis

This is the first in a series called “Why We Invest in Our Creative Community: A CANVAS Conversation.

In the wake of unprecedented upheaval and conflict, where do we find answers to the deeper questions we face? As the People of the Book, Jews have historically turned to books to comprehend and process the world, with all the beauty and challenges it presents us. More than ever, we depend on the insights of our authors for interpretation, empathy, and transcendence.

We are excited to present a rare and intimate conversation/reading with three major Jewish authors — Nathan Englander, Marra B. Gad, and Rachel Kadish — as they share their work and their reactions to the crises of our times.

What is the role of an artist in a pandemic? During a period of profound reckoning? How has their response been informed by their Jewish identities? We hope you will join us to learn the answers to these questions, and ask some of your own.

This conversation will be moderated by Lou Cove, Founder of CANVAS, and Naomi Firestone-Teeter, Executive Director of the Jewish Book Council (a CANVAS grantee).

About the Panelists

Nathan Englander is the author of the story collections “For the Relief of Unbearable Urges,” an international best seller, and “What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank,” and the novels “The Ministry of Special Cases” and “Dinner at the Center of the Earth.” His books have been translated into 22 languages, and, among other prizes, he was chosen as one of Twenty Writers for the 21st Century by The New Yorker and is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a PEN/Malamud Award, a Berlin Prize, the Sue Kaufman Prize from the American Academy of Arts & Letters, the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. He was a Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2013. His play “The Twenty-Seventh Man” premiered at the Public Theater in 2012, and his new play, “What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank,” commissioned by Lincoln Center Theater, was scheduled to run at The Old Globe in San Diego now, but is on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic. He is Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University and lives with his family in Toronto.

Marra B. Gad is the author of “The Color of Love: A story of a Mixed-Race Jewish Girl,” winner of the 2020 Midwest Book Award for Memoir. She was born in New York and raised in Chicago. She is an independent film and television producer and now calls Los Angeles home. Ms. Gad is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and holds a master’s degree in modern Jewish history from Baltimore Hebrew Institute at Towson University.

Rachel Kadish’s most recent novel, “The Weight of Ink,” was awarded a National Jewish Book Award, the Julia Ward Howe Fiction Prize, and the Association of Jewish Libraries’ Fiction Award. Her work has been read on National Public Radio and has appeared in The New York Times, Salon, Slate, Paris Review, Iowa Review, and the Pushcart Prize Anthology. She has been the Koret Writer-in-Residence at Stanford University and a fellow of the National Endowment for the Arts and the Massachusetts Cultural Council. She lives outside Boston and is a co-founder of the Stockholm-based initiative Voices Between: Stories Against Extremism.

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