NEA Big Read
The Shawl

The Shawl

by Cynthia Ozick

Just as you can’t grasp anything without an opposable thumb, you can’t write anything without the aid of metaphor. Metaphor is the mind’s opposable thumb.

Cynthia Ozick (Copyright Nancy Crampton)

Peter Black is the Senior Historian for the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. In the 1980s and 1990s, he worked for the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Special Investigations, as part of a team tracking and prosecuting suspected Nazi war criminals.

Writer Anne Fadiman has won National Magazine Awards for her reporting (1987) and essays (2003), as well as a National Book Critics Circle Award for The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down (1997). From 1997 to 2004, she was Editor of The American Scholar. She is a Writer-in-Residence at Yale University. Her book of essays, At Large and At Small, was published in 2007.

Dana Gioia, the former Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts (2003-2009), is an acclaimed poet, critic, and literary anthologist. His third collection of poetry, Interrogations at Noon (2001), won the American Book Award. He has also written collections of essays, including Can Poetry Matter? Essays on Poetry and American Culture (1992; 2002) and Disappearing Ink: Poetry at the End of Print Culture (2004). In 2015, he became the California State Poet Laureate.

The daughter of Russian Jewish immigrants, writer Cynthia Ozick was born and raised in New York. She has published several novels, short stories, and essay collections, including Trust (1966), The Shawl (1989), The Puttermesser Papers (1997), The Din in the Head (2006), and Foreign Bodies (2010). She is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation.

Actress Marion Ross made her film debut in Forever Female (1953), starring Ginger Rogers and William Holden. She may be best known for her television roles as Marion Cunningham on Happy Days (1974-84) and Sophie Berger on Brooklyn Bridge (1991-83). Among her hundreds of film, theater, and television appearances, she played a Jewish adoptive mother in the television film Hidden in Silence (1996).

Diane Thiel was born in Coral Gables, Florida. After earning her BA and MFA degrees from Brown University, Thiel lived in Europe and Latin America, taught at several universities, and worked for environmental causes in Columbia and Peru. The award-winning author of Echolocations (2000) and Resistance Fantasies (2004), Thiel is a professor at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.

Elie Wiesel was born in the town of Sighet, Romania, in 1928. Imprisoned with his family in the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps during World War II, Wiesel was 15 years old when the camps were liberated—events he recorded in the memoir Night (1958). The author of more than forty books, he has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the French Legion of Honor, and the Nobel Peace Prize.

Scholar Ruth R. Wisse was born in Romania and raised in Montreal. She is a professor of Yiddish Literature and Comparative Literature at Harvard University. She has edited several anthologies of Yiddish poetry and prose, including her 2003 translation of Abraham Sutzkever's poems, The Fiddle Rose: Poems 1970-1972. Her books on Jewish culture, history, and literature include The Modern Jewish Canon (2003) and Jews and Power (2007).

NEA Big Read
Get involved with NEA Big Read!
Learn More

© Arts Midwest