Ruby Namdar, David Bezmozgis, Ayelet Tsabari, Nicole Krauss, Sarah Phillips Casteel, Dean Franco, Dalia Kandiyoti, Ben Schreier

Ruby Namdar is the author of Haviv (2000) which won The Ministry of Culture's Award for Best First Publication. His novel The Ruined House has won the Sapir Prize, Israel’s most prestigious literary award.

UIUC event details:  
Q & A with Ruby Namdar and Dara Goldman
Date: Monday, October 8, 2018, 5:00 pm  
Location: Lucy Ellis Lounge, Foreign Languages Building 1080 (707 S. Mathews, Urbana)                         

Chicago event details:
Date: Wednesday, October 10, 2018, 4:00 pm
Location: UIC's Institute for Humanities (701 S. Morgan, Lower Level/Stevenson Hall, Chicago)

Sponsored by the Israel Studies Project

Both events are free and open to the public.

David Bezmozgis is the author of the story collection, Natasha and Other Stories (2004), and the novels, The Free World (2011), and The Betrayers (2014). David’s stories have appeared in numerous publications including The New Yorker, HarpersZoetrope All-Story, and The Walrus. In the summer of 2010, David was included in The New Yorker's 20 Under 40 issue, celebrating the twenty most promising fiction writers under the age of forty. A graduate of the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts, David's first feature film, Victoria Day, premiered in competition at the Sundance Film Festival in 2009. His second feature, an adaptation of his story Natasha, was released in 2017. David has been a Guggenheim Fellow, a MacDowell Fellow, a Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Fellow at the New York Public Library, and a Radcliffe Fellow. Born in Riga, Latvia, David lives in Toronto where he directs the Humber School for Writers.

UIUC event details:
Date: Monday, October 22, 2018, 5:00 pm
Lucy Ellis Lounge, Foreign Languages Building 1080 (707 S. Mathews, Urbana) 

Chicago event details:
The Betrayers and Other Stories: Writing for the Page and the Screen
Date: Tuesday, October 23, 2018, 7:00 pm
Location: North Shore Congregation Israel (1185 Sheridan Rd., Glencoe)

Sponsored by the Krouse Family Visiting Scholars in Judaism and Western Culture Fund

Both events are free and open to the public.

Ayelet Tsabari's debut story collection The Best Place on Earth, won the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature, and the Edward Lewis Wallant Award. The book was a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice, Kirkus Review’s Best Debut Fiction of 2016, was nominated for The Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, and has been published internationally to great acclaim. (

UIUC event details:
Date: Monday, February 25, 2019, 5:00 pm
Location: Lucy Ellis Lounge, Foreign Languages Building 1080 (707 S. Mathews, Urbana) 
Free and open to the public.

Chicago event details:
Date: Wednesday, February 27, 2019, Noon
Location: Standard Club Lunch and Learn* (320 S. Plymouth Ct., Chicago)
*Tickets ($38/each) will need to be purchased for Standard Club lunch. Purchase tickets here.

Sponsored by the Israel Studies Project (Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago)

Nicole Krauss is the author of the New York Times bestsellers, Great House, a finalist for the National Book Award and Orange Prize, and The History of Love, which won the Saroyan Prize for International Literature and France’s Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger, and was short-listed for the Orange, Medicis, and Femina Prizes. Her first novel, Man Walks Into a Room, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award. (

UIUC event details:
Date: Tuesday, April 9, 2019, 5:00 pm
Location: Knight Auditorium, Spurlock Museum (600 S Gregory St, Urbana)

Chicago event details:
Date: Monday, April 8, 2019, 7:00 pm
Location: McCormick Auditorium in Norris University Center (1999 Campus Drive, Evanston)

Sponsored by MillerComm and Greenfield Lynch Fund

Both events are free and open to the public.

21st Century Jewish Writing and the World Roundtable

Invited scholars Sarah Phillips Casteel, Dean Franco, Dalia Kandiyoti, and Benjamin Schreier, gave stimulating readings of their works in progress on the theme of Jewish Writing in the 21st Century at a roundtable symposium, facilitated by University of Illinois Professor Gordon Hutner on March 29, 2019 at the Levis Faculty Center.

Sarah Phillips Casteel, Professor of English at Carleton University, is cross-appointed to the Institute of African Studies, where she founded the Centre for Transnational Cultural Analysis.  Recipient of a Polyani prize and a Horst Frenz prize, she is the author, most recently, of Calypso Jews: Jewishness in the Caribbean Literary Imagination (Columbia University Press, 2016), which won a Canadian Jewish Literary Award.  Professor Casteel presented, “Telling the Untold Story: Jewish Wartime Refuge in Haiti in Dalembert’s Avant que les ombres s’effacent.”

Dean Franco, Co-founder and Director of the Wake Forest University Humanities Institute and Professor of English, directs the Jewish Studies minor at that institution.  He researches race and literature.  Professor Franco presented, “The Desire of Literary History.”

Dalia Kandiyoti, associate professor of English at the College of Staten Island, City University of New York researches comparative Sephardi Studies and Latinx Studies. She has published a book on diaspora literatures, identities, and theories entitled Migrant Sites: America, Place, and Diaspora Literatures (University Press of New England 2009). Professor Kandiyoti presented, “The Transnational Historical Imagination: Narrating Lost Knowledge.”

Benjamin Schreier, Mitrani Family Professor of Jewish Studies and editor of Studies in American Jewish Literature at Penn State University anchors his work in post-1900 American and Jewish American literature and culture. His most recent book is The Impossible Jew: Identity and the Reconstruction of Jewish American Literature (NYU Press, 2015). Professor Schreier presented, “Jewish Literature, ‘the World,’ and Jewish Studies’ Bad Faith.”

Following each presentation was a response from University of Illinois faculty.  Professor Dara Goldman responded to Professor Casteel, Professor Brett Ashley Kaplan responded to Professor Franco, Professor Vincent Cervantes responded to Professor Kandiyoti, and Professor Bruce Rosenstock responded to Professor Schreier.

The participants were pleased to find that the presenters’ works had similar themes woven into them, which produced lively discussion and inspired further development of their scholarship.