Kristel Thornell, Mary Carter, Theodore Ross

September 30, 2012
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Theodore RossAm I a Jew?: Lost Tribes, Lapsed Jews, and One Man’s Search for Himself, begins with a deception: “I was nine years old when my mother forced me to convert to Christianity. . . .” He had just moved from New York City to a small town in Mississippi, his recently divorced mother insisted upon a radical reinvention: The family would pretend to not be Jewish. As such, Ross was sent to an Episcopal school, where he studied the Bible, sang in the choir, and even took communion.
As an adult, Ross abandoned the religious charade but could not undo the impact of his child- hood. The distance between the religious identity of his youth and the conventional Judaism of his forebears left him to confront a single, deceptively complicated question: Am I a Jew? He set out to find an answer by looking into a wide array of contexts and communities. Drawn to the fringes of Jewish identity, Ross immersed himself among the “Crypto-Jews” of New Mexico, the “Lost Tribes” who have migrated to Israel, and the ultra-Orthodox seeking to “return” their secular brethren to strict observance. He hoped that by reckoning with these disparate religious lives, he would come to an understanding of his own. Filled with humor, curiosity, and sincerity, Am I a Jew? is an exploration of America’s riotous religious diversity, and one man’s quest to stake a claim within it.
Ross’ writing has appeared in the pages (print and electronic) of the New York Times, Harper’s Magazine, the Atlantic, Tablet, Saveur, Tin House, The Morning News, McSweeney’s, and several journals even less known than the little known ones included here (Read Boulevard or Black Clock lately?). He is am the features editor of Men’s Journal magazine, the co-founder of the parenting blog, Dadwagon, and Am I a Jew?, is his first book.
Kristel Thornell was born in Sydney, Australia, and has also lived in Italy, Mexico, Canada, Finland and the US. Her first novel, Night Street, co-won the 2009 Australian / Vogel Literary Award and won the Dobbie Literary Award for a first book and the Barbara Ramsden Award for book of the year. Night Street was shortlisted for the Glenda Adams Award and the Christina Stead Prize in the NSW Premier’s Awards. Thornell was named one of the Best Young Australian Novelists by The Sydney Morning Herald in 2011. Her short fiction, poetry, essays and reviews have appeared in a range of publications. She holds a B.A. (Hons) from the University of Sydney, an M.A. from the University of New Brunswick, and a PhD from the Writing and Society Research Group at the University of Western Sydney. She lives in Rochester, New York.  She reads from her novel: Night Street

Night Street is the imagined life of one of Australia’s most intriguing artists. In 1914, Clarice Beckett sought the unusual, resisting social conventions by pursuing a career in painting, defying her family by yearning for a life of passion and sensuality. Her atmospheric, enigmatic landscapes garnered little approval from critics, who disparaged her style and subjects. Despite this censure, Clarice refused to compromise, unconventionally exploring her sexuality while relentlessly pursuing her talent. Unearthing the remarkable in the mundane, she transmuted simple cityscapes and seaside terrains into revelatory works of art.
Mary Carter is a freelance writer and novelist. Mary’s new novel, The Things I Do For You, will be released July 31st, 2012, and her new novella, A Kiss Before Midnight (in an anthology collection headlined by Janet Daily) will be out in the Spring of 2013. Her fifth novel, The Pub Across the Pond, will be July’s pick of the month with Barnes and Noble online book club, and is also available as an audiobook through Blackstone Audio. Her other works include: My Sister’s Voice, Sunnyside Blues, She’ll Take It, and Accidentally Engaged. In addition to her novels she has written two novellas: A Very Maui Christmas in the New York Times best selling anthology Holiday Magic, and The Honeymoon House in the New York Times best selling anthology Almost Home. Mary is also excited to announce that she has started, The Writers’ Den, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan where she will be teaching the exact writing course that helped her write and publish her first novel. Aspiring writers in the New York City area can go to www.themanhattanwritersden for more information.

About the Series: KGB Bar Sunday Night Fiction

The KGB Bar Sunday Night Fiction showcases the finest in contemporary fiction from new and emerging writers.

Suzanne Dottino/fiction curator,