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Five Reasons to Get Excited About the New Issue of Paper Brigade

The Jewish Book Council’s annual magazine is a smart and gorgeous treat

Liel Leibovitz
December 12, 2017
Illustration by Laura Junger
The front cover of the new issue of 'Paper Brigade'Illustration by Laura Junger
Illustration by Laura Junger
The front cover of the new issue of 'Paper Brigade'Illustration by Laura Junger

If you’re already fanatical about Jewish literature, you know that the Jewish Book Council is a wonder, and that its publication, Paper Brigade, is a beautiful and evocative annual publication, is a treat. But if you need an introduction, look no further: Here are five reasons to get excited about Paper Brigade’s second issue, hot off the presses:

1. It features a touching tribute to the late, great Israeli pop star Ofra Haza: “In a world where the actors on TV were Ashkenazi and the singers on the radio were Ashkenazi and the models in magazines were Ashkenazi,” writes the Israeli author Ayelet Tsabari, “there was Ofra, the simple Yemeni girl from Hatikva neighborhood whose star shone brighter than anyone’s, who made it against all odds, and who looked like me, or like one of my more beautiful cousins.” Taken from Tsabari’s upcoming memoir, the piece is a gorgeous meditation on what it means to try and fit in when practically nothing in the culture looks or feels like you, and how one iconic singer can inspire a personal and artistic transformation.

2. It rocks a graphic novel book review of Walter Benjamin: The talented illustrator Julia Alekseyeva brings the German-Jewish philosopher, his friends, and his ideas to life in text-heavy panels that make you crave both more words and more art, an achievement that would’ve made Benjamin happy.

3. It lets Alejandro Jodorowsky do his thing: “While Pinkel’s car, stinking of whiskey, carried them toward the explosion,” writes the famous director in an excerpt from his forthcoming novel that reads like one of his surreal movies, “and the cruel morning sun dried the nighttime dew, Rubi brought Jaime’s head close to Sara Felicidad’s and murmured very softly in their ears, so the superintendent and his proud slattern wouldn’t hear her, ‘It’s criminal to destroy a hill… How can they not realize that? The hills are ancient, sacred beings.’” It gets weirder and more delightful.

4. It asks Stephen Tobolowsky all the right questions: You may know him from Groundhog Day or Glee or a bunch of other beloved movies and TV shows, but Tobolowsky is a superb and philosophical author, and the interview, by Lou Cove, lets him shine. “When you write a book in which God is a central character,” he muses, “you have a fundamental problem: What are you writing about?”

5. It is gorgeous: Which makes reading it all the more pleasurable.

Go ahead, then: click here and get busy reading.

Liel Leibovitz is editor-at-large for Tablet Magazine and a host of its weekly culture podcast Unorthodox and daily Talmud podcast Take One. He is the editor of Zionism: The Tablet Guide.