The Ruined House Book Launch

The Ruined House Book Launch

Ruby Namdar in conversation with Liel Leibovitz


Thursday, December 7, 2017, 7:00 pm

$10 general ● $5 students/AJHS members/seniors ● $12 at the door

The Ruined House Book Launch: Presented and produced by American Jewish Historical Society, Center for Jewish History and 14th Street Y (Arts + Culture and DJL). Co-sponsored by Consulate General of Israel in New York. Supported by the Jewish Book Council and Tablet Magazine.

In the spring of 2000 Jerusalem-born author Ruby Namdar found himself wandering in the streets of New York, taking in the magnitude and glory of this larger-than-life city. Written in New York, in an unusually rich and complex Hebrew prose, The Ruined House was Namdar’s literary response to this experience, as well as to the experience of living and working outside of the “Hebrew territory”. Winner of the 2014 Sapir Prize, Israel’s most important literary award, the novel describes a year in the life of a university professor whose life begins to unravel as he is visited by a string of inexplicable visions of the Holy Temple in Roman era Jerusalem. A few months after Namdar won it, the Sapir Prize committee changed the guidelines in order to prevent other ex-pat Israeli authors living outside of Israel from submitting their work in the future. This controversial decision caused a lively debate, echoes of which still resonate now and then in the Israeli press.

The conversation between Ruby Namdar and Liel Leibovitz of Tablet Magazine will focus on questions such as: What does it mean to live in one language and write in another? Do language and literature have a territory? What do we mean when we say: “American Literature”, "Israeli Literature" and “Jewish Literature”? The discussion will be followed by a reception, a book sale and signing by the author. 

This is the closing event for the festival THE SEVENTH DAY: ISRAELI LITERATURE FIFTY YEARS AFTER THE SIX-DAY WAR. Festival Director: Hanan Elstein

This program is inspired by the papers of great Jewish New York novelists housed in our collections, such as the Abraham Shoenfeld Papers, the Henry Roth Papers, and the Walter Hart Blumenthal Papers – all, like Namdar, masterfully narrated themes of immigration, identity, and the American Jewish experience.