Jewish writers David Bezmozgis of Toronto and Dara Horn of New York pay tribute to a Jewish-American literary legend on June 8 at Toronto’s Luminato Festival, a vibrant 10-day arts celebration (June 6 to 15) with a rich program of literary, musical, dance, film, visual arts and other offerings.
Bezmozgis and Horn will celebrate the works of the late Nobel
Prize-winning author Isaac Bashevis Singer in an afternoon program in
which each will read a favourite passage from Singer’s work, along with
a selection from their own writing.
Bezmozgis, author of the acclaimed short story collection Natasha and Other Stories, is currently working on a novel and will probably read a section of his own work that has not yet been published, he told The CJN.
Singer has had a substantial influence on his writing, said Bezmozgis, whose own stories spotlight the community of Russian-Jewish émigrés that settled in north Toronto in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s. “Singer really straddled two worlds, the old world and the new, and I think in a similar way I feel myself doing that as well,” he said.
Many readers have “a very folksy perception” of Singer, Bezmozgis said, but often forget that a significant part of his work, “particularly his writing about people who survived the Holocaust and ended up in America, was often very cynical and certainly very skeptical.”
He cited the novel Enemies: A Love Story, which he has read several times, as perhaps the Singer work that has influenced him the most.
Dara Horn, author of The World to Come, is a winner of the U.S. National Jewish Book Award and other literary prizes. Besides Bezmozgis and Horn, Humber College arts dean, Joe Kertesz, will moderate Luminato’s Celebration of Isaac Bashevis Singer. It takes place at the Al Green Theatre, Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre, 750 Spadina Ave. at Bloor, June 8, 3 p.m. Tickets are $10.
A program on the political graphic novel takes place in the same location a few hours later (7 p.m.) and features Bernice Eisenstein (I Was a Child of Holocaust Survivors), Spain Rodriguez (Che: A Graphic Biography) and Anthony Lappe and Dan Goldman (Shooting War). Tickets are $10.
Teresa Tova and Nikki Yanofsky, TOP RIGHT, are among the dozen or so singers and musical artists paying tribute to Canadian songwriters in a Luminato program called The Canadian Songbook. It’s at Massey Hall on June 9, 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $40, $50 and $60. Visit the website luminato.com for further information on these and other fine Luminato programs.