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Author Archives: Yona Zeldis McDonough

The Lilith Blog

August 5, 2020 by

Nostalgia for the 1939 World’s Fair

Neither Maxine Roth nor Vivi Holden wanted to be sent to World’s Fair in the spring of 1939; Max was angling for a journalism internship at the New York Times and Vivi was excited by a starring role—her first—in the Hollywood film Every Last Sunset. But both young women do end up at the fair.  What they learn—about themselves, the nature of friendship and indeed life—are the basis for the novel We Came Here to Shine (St. Martin’s, $16.99). Fiction Editor Yona Zeldis McDonough chats with author Susie Orman Schnall about her entertaining new summer read—think of it as a perfect respite from the horror of the daily news.   (more…)

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The Lilith Blog

July 31, 2020 by

Is Rape a Crime? A Conversation with Michelle Bowdler

Is Rape a Crime: A Memoir, an Investigation and a Manifesto (Flatiron, $27.99) ought to come with a warning: parts of this book are so harrowing that I frequently had to put it down for a spell before picking it up again, avid to continue. Long after the fact, author Michelle Bowdler returns to the home invasion and brutal rape she suffered as a young woman.  As one might expect, the attack both branded and shaped her.  When she was finally ready to explore the subject in print, she was able to go deep into her own experience but also wide, to place it within a historical and cultural context.  Bowdler talks to Fiction Editor Yona Zeldis McDonough about what this literary exploration has meant for her—and what she hopes it will mean to others. 

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The Lilith Blog

July 14, 2020 by

Stitching for Survival: the Story of Holocaust Survivor Trudie Strobel

Some artists work with a brush; others with a pen, and still others with their voices, bodies, or a musical instrument. Trudie Strobel’s instrument is a slender needle, and she wields it with fierce and incredible power. Lilith first learned of Trudie Strobel’s recovery of her Holocaust past when she told Rabbi Susan Schnur of recreating the treasured doll the Nazis had torn away from her when she was a small child. When Jody Savin encountered Strobel’s work, she knew she had to tell her story (Stitched & Sewn: The Life-Saving Art of Holocaust Survivor Trudie Strobel, Prospect Park Books, $35).  Savin talks to Fiction Editor Yona Zeldis McDonough about the delicate process of excavating Strobel’s harrowing past and how her art was a way of coming to terms with it.

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The Lilith Blog

May 31, 2020 by

Three Characters, Three Storylines, and Three Time Periods

The Book Of V (Henry Holt, $27.99) is nothing if not ambitious—three main characters, three storylines and three wildly divergent time periods—and yet novelist Anna Solomon manages to weave all three together with an effortlessness that belies the profound nature of her fictional probing. She talks to Fiction Editor Yona Zeldis McDonough about why Esther and Vashti continue to be subjects of endless speculation and fascination, and what their stories can teach us today.  

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The Lilith Blog

May 20, 2020 by

Embracing “Quasi-Motherhood” With Humor and Empathy

Dani Alpert is one funny lady, and like many comics, she uses her life as a prime source for her material.  After falling for a divorced dad of two, she struggles to find a way to embrace the offspring she claims never to have wanted.  Fast forward to the break-up with said boyfriend, which comes with an unseen punch—by this time, she loves the kids and wants to keep them in her life. 

Alpert talks to Fiction Editor Yona Zeldis McDonough about her new memoir, The Girlfriend Mom, in which she gives us the skinny on how she does just that—and what she learns along the way. 

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The Lilith Blog

May 6, 2020 by

Reducing Waste By Reusing Flowers

I’ve been hunting for, buying, and wearing second-hand schmattes for decades. So when I learned about ReVased, a new company that devised a way to re-use flowers, I had to know more. I tracked down the founders, Aviva and Arielle Vogelstein, and we chatted about their ingenious plan to reduce waste while creating and spreading joy. 

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The Lilith Blog

April 25, 2020 by

Beyond the Ghetto Gates: The Liberation of Jews in Italy

In the late 18 century, French troops invaded the Italian port city of Ancona, liberating the Jews from the ghetto where they’d been forced to live. This new freedom had consequences both cultural and personal. Novelist Michelle Cameron’s Beyond the Ghetto Gates (She Writes Press, $16.95) is set in this bracing moment and she talks to Fiction Editor Yona Zeldis McDonough about why she chose this particular time and what she hopes her readers will learn from it. 

Yona Zeldis McDonough: You selected an atypical chapter in Jewish history on which to focus; what drew you to it? 

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The Lilith Blog

April 23, 2020 by

A New Translation of a Yiddish Comic Gem

If you crossed Helen’s Fielding’s Bridget Jones’s Diary with Nathanael West’s Miss Lonelyhearts, you might end up with Diary of a Lonely Girl, or the Battle Against Free Love (Syracuse University Press, $19.95) written by the Yiddish writer Miriam Karpilove and recently translated by Jessica Kirzane. Fiction Editor Yona Zeldis McDonough talks to Kirzane about how she stumbled upon this singular writer and why her work still matters today. 

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The Lilith Blog

April 15, 2020 by

An Imaginary Quarter of a Food-Obsessed City

Consider the Feast (Open Books, $19.95) offers a wild ride through an imaginary quarter of a food-obsessed city.  Debut novelist Carmit Delman talks to Fiction Editor Yona Zeldis McDonough about how food becomes both marker and symbol for the haves and the have nots.

Yona Zeldis McDonough: Like your protagonist,Talia, you have a background that’s both Indian and Israeli. Can you describe growing up within those two cultures? 

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The Lilith Blog

April 13, 2020 by

Making Jewish Life in 15th Century Spain Come Alive for Kids

Loma—short for Paloma—is a Jewish girl living in 15th century Spain and the clear hero of this middle-grade historical novel, (A Ceiling Made of Eggshells, HarperCollins, $17.99).  Clever with words and even more clever with numbers, Loma captures the attention of Belo, her stern and commanding grandfather.  To her surprise, he decides that she will accompany him on his travels and she discovers she has an important role to play in determining the future of her people. Newberry award-winning author Gail Carson Levine talks to Fiction Editor Yona Zeldis McDonough about bringing significant episodes in Jewish history to life again. 

Yona Zeldis McDonough: What sparked your interest in this period in Jewish history and what kind of research did you do?

Gail Carson Levine: My father is the culprit! Soon after his death, because I missed him so much, I wrote my first and only other historical novel (so far), Dave at Night, which is loosely based on his childhood in the Hebrew Orphan Asylum in New York City. A Ceiling Made of Eggshells comes indirectly from that orphanage experience, too, because it separated him from his Sephardic roots.

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