Last night, at the New York Public Library, Nathan Englander conducted his first reading/program for his new novel, The Ministry of Special Cases (whose official publication date was yesterday). The night was MC-ed by Ben Karlin, co-creator of The Colbert Report.
It’s not shocking, but a program featuring two Jews talking about a Jewish-ish book at the NYPL turned into a very Jewy evening.
It all started when Jean Strouse, the director of the NYPL’s Cullman Center, mentioned that Karlin edited America (The Book) along with Jon Stewart and David Javerbaum, to which Karlin responded (about Javerbaum): “Not Jewish!”
Strouse replied: “Yes. This is Jew night.”
Karlin then began his introduction with: “Good evening lovers of Arcane Judaica.”
Englander read the first chapter of the new novel, which focuses on an Argentinian, Kaddish Poznan (Jew!), whose son is disappeared in 1976. Englander read in an interesting lilt that sounded much like a poetry reading, but had a significant degree of yeshiva sprinkled in.
In response to Karlin’s first question, after the reading, Englander mentioned the Holocaust, then stopped himself and said: “See, I’m already talking about the Holocaust, and we’re only 8 seconds in.”
More on the event a little later, but for those of you in New York, Englander has another gig tonight, this one at the 92st Y with Jonathan Lethem.