Books Israel

Not such a backwater

I’d always thought not much happens in my home town as far as literary events go, but this month has been quite a revelation.

First, there was the excellent two-day seminar I wrote about here.

Then there was the Kisufim Writers’ Conference, of which I attended one session, a discussion about memory in literature.

And now, there’s the┬ábiennial International Book Fair, which I attended yesterday and where I heard three interesting talks/discussions. The first was a discussion of the works of the Israeli author, Leah Goldberg. The second was a talk by an Israeli author whose name I didn’t catch. I enjoyed hearing about his path to becoming an author and why he writes what he writes. “I don’t know why,” he said several times, but that didn’t stop him from saying plenty on the subject.

Thirdly, in a large, packed hall that I was lucky to get into as many were turned away, I heard the Chief Rabbi of Britain, Lord Jonathan Sacks. He is an excellent speaker. He kept the audience enthralled with anecdotes, while holding on to his message: not assimilation and not segregation. We have something to give to the world and can do it proudly.

What did this have to do with literature? Lord Sacks has written fifteen books. At least, I think that’s what they said, although here I see he’s written twenty-four. That’s quite an achievement!

So it seems Jerusalem isn’t such a literary backwater after all.