Jewish Culture in Sweden, this year’s Guest of Honour at the 2023 Gothenburg Book Fair, is proud to present its first four international guests.
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Hila blum, judy batalion, daniel Libeskind, joshua cohen
Press Release
Presenting the first four authors contributing to the Jewish Culture theme at the 2023 Gothenburg Book Fair
Cultural institution Jewish Culture in Sweden, this year’s Guest of Honour at the 2023 Gothenburg Book Fair, is proud to present its first four international guests who will feature at the event later this year: Hila Blum (Israel), Judy Batalion (Canada), Daniel Libeskind (Poland/USA) and Joshua Cohen (USA). Together, these guests exemplify how the theme will provide audiences with a range of lenses through which to look at multifaceted Jewish culture and its rich literary heritage.
The 2023 Gothenburg Book Fair’s Jewish Culture theme will present Jewish culture from the Bible to the present day. A number of seminars will highlight different aspects of Jewish history, literature and philosophy. There will be an emphasis on the universal nature of the multifaceted Jewish culture as expressed in literature, film, music and contemporary social life.

“With this thematic strand, we will be shining a light on a diverse culture that has given the world incredible art, music and film – not to mention literature. The very first Book Fair held in 1985 brought Jewish writer and Nobel laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer to Gothenburg, and just like Singer we are keen to work together with our 2023 Guest of Honour Jewish Culture in Sweden to reflect the universal human condition and the dilemmas we face in the specific culture of the Jewish minority,” says Oskar Ekström, Programme Director at the Gothenburg Book Fair.

Over recent months, this year’s Guest of Honour Jewish Culture in Sweden has been honing the main features of their thematic strand in partnership with the Book Fair, and a number of enthralling guests have been invited to appear. Jewish Culture in Sweden has extensive experience in delivering high quality cultural programming with fascinating guests, and will through its Book Fair residency provide audiences with a variety of perspectives on the many aspects of Jewish culture and its rich literary traditions. This is the first time that the Gothenburg Book Fair has welcomed a cultural institution as its Guest of Honour.

“We are honoured and delighted to be this year’s Book Fair Guest of Honour and appreciate the trust placed in us. This year’s theme of Jewish Culture is permeated by universality and reflects every part of the world. We are looking forward to shining a light on Jewish culture and its various modes of expression with their roots in history as well as a strong connection to the present.  We hope to provide a variety of insights into the multifaceted Jewish culture and its rich literary tradition,” says Lizzie Oved Scheja, Director of Jewish Culture in Sweden.

Hila Blum (published in Sweden by Bazar förlag) lives in her city of birth, Jerusalem, but has previously lived in Hawaii, New York and Paris. She has worked in publishing for many years as an editor. Hila Blum made her debut in 2011 with her novel The Visit. Her second novel, How to Love Your Daughter, will be published in English translation shortly before the Book Fair, while its Swedish translation (due out in the spring) is her first work to be translated to Swedish.

Judy Batalion (published in Sweden by Natur & Kultur) is a Canadian journalist and author who hails from Montréal but now lives in New York City. In her latest book, The Light of Days, she depicts the lives of the Jewish women in Poland who became resistance fighters during the Second World War. It is a vivid and deeply gripping narrative of courage, survival and female friendship, and has been translated into more than ten languages, including Swedish. She is also the author of White Walls: A Memoir About Motherhood, Daughterhood, and the Mess In Between. Batalion is a fluent Yiddish speaker and the granddaughter of Polish Holocaust survivors.

Daniel Libeskind was born in the Polish city of Lódź and is of Jewish descent. He now lives in the United States and is a prominent architect, artist and set designer. Libeskind has designed many well-known museum buildings, including the Jewish Museum in Berlin, the Danish Jewish Museum in Copenhagen, the Denver Art Museum in the USA and the Imperial War Museum North in the UK. His portfolio also includes several residential projects. His work has been exhibited in major museums and galleries around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Bauhaus Archives, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Centre Pompidou and the Victoria and Albert Museum. On February 27th, 2003, Libeskind’s master plan won the competition to select a design for the World Trade Center reconstruction project in Lower Manhattan. Libeskind will participate in both the Jewish Culture theme and the City theme of the Book Fair.

Joshua Cohen (published in Sweden by Tranan) won the 2022 Pulitzer for his satirical novel The Netanyahus, which is due to be published in Swedish translation just in time for the Book Fair. The book mixes fact with fiction and focuses on an event in the life of the older generation of the Netanyahu family, in the shape of Benzion, the father of Israel’s current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Born in Atlantic City, Joshua Cohen today lives in New York and is a well-established American author whose novels include Moving Kings, Book of Numbers and Witz. Cohen was awarded the Israeli Matanel Prize for Jewish Writers in 2013 and was featured on Granta’s 2017 list of most promising writers under 40 in the USA and UK.

The roots of the Jewish storytelling tradition are found in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and the prophetic books and extend all the way up to the latest modern literature. Human life and destiny, as well as the Jewish school of thought contained in this long and rich literary tradition, have taken on many different literary shapes. This includes poets from the Spanish Golden Age such as Solomon ibn Gabirol and Yehuda Halevi, philosophers such as Baruch Spinoza and Ludwig Wittgenstein, Yiddish writers such as Sholem Aleichem and Isaac Bashevis Singer, and modern central European authors such as Marcel Proust, Franz Kafka, Walter Benjamin and Hannah Arendt, as well as authors working in the shadow of the Holocaust such as Primo Levi, poets like Nelly Sachs and Paul Celan, American novelists such as Saul Bellow and Philip Roth, Israeli writers like Amos Oz, and contemporary voices such as Nicole Krauss and Masha Gessen.

Further authors who will feature in the Jewish Culture theme at the Gothenburg Book Fair will be announced during the spring and at the programme launch on 8 June.
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