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Joseph Skibell Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

A Blessing on the Moon (1997)Description / Buy at Amazon
The English Disease (2003)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Curable Romantic (2010)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

My Father's Guitar and Other Imaginary Things (2015)Description / Buy at Amazon
Six Memos from the Last Millennium (2016)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Anthologies

The New Diaspora: The Changing Landscape of American Jewish Fiction(2014)Description / Buy at Amazon

Joseph Skibell is an American writer from Lubbock, Texas, best known for the writing of a series of novels, essays, and memos with plot lines with a wide-ranging collection of wisdom from the Talmud. Living in Lubbock, his childhood was steeped in pop music and he asserts that he found inspiration for his works from the works of the greats of the 70s such as Jackson Browne and Bob Dylan. His love for the poetic lyrics of the greats was one of the very first indications that he might just find a career in storytelling. As for his literary inspiration, he cites the Talmud as his most favorite work as he believes it combines the best elements of the literary greats from Tom Stoddard, to Sophocles, to Shakespeare. However, he takes a lot of inspiration from almost anyone and even cites the work of Chinua Achebe the Nigerian author as an influential work in the writing his novels. Nonetheless, his early years were spent reading the likes of John Steinbeck, Samuel Beckett, and Edward Albee. He would later attend the University of Texas, Austin in 1981, but spent much of the following years doing a range of jobs that included bar tending at a Los Angeles tennis club, screenwriting for the Bryna Company, copy editing for the Argonaut Newspaper in Marina del Ray, and baking bread in Taos, New Mexico. He would go back to school attaining a Masters of Fine Arts degree from the Michener Center for Writers in 1996. After getting his degree, he shifted focus from screenplays and plays to focus on novel writing. He published his first novel “A Blessing on the Moon” in 1997.

The idea of opening up, playing, and experimenting has been a central component of Joseph Skibell’s works. In fact, his first novel “A Blessing the Moon” found its inspiration from the horrors of the holocaust. As an author of Jewish extraction, Skibell lost 18 relatives to the Holocaust and his works portray his deep sense of Jewishness and Judaism. Lauded as a novel rich in invention, humor, and emotion, it opens with the death of the protagonist who is shot in the Holocaust only for its soul to come back to wander the earth. He would follow that up with the contemporary novel “The English Disease” about Charles Belski, a Jewish man that lives in guilt and regret after marrying a gentile woman. His third novel “A Curable Romantic” that focuses on assimilation and Jewishness, is a comprehensive and time tripping novel that has been described as an intellectual comedy. The novel is a Yiddish tragedy that tells the story of Jakob Sammelsohn, an intellectual that finds it impossible to find love in a 1940 Warsaw Ghetto. The first novel received much critical acclaim winning the Best Book of Fiction Jessed H. Jones Award by the Texas Institute of Letters, the Steven Turner Award for First Fiction, and the American Academy of Arts and Letter Hinda Rosenthal Foundation Award. The novel has also been translated into several languages that include Dutch, French, and German. “A Curable Romantic” was a nominee for the Townsend Prize for Fiction in 2012, and won the Sami Rohr Prize in Jewish Literature in 2011.

Joseph Skibell’s works that include at least four novels, six memos and numerous essays have been featured on Maggid and Tikkun, Poets & Writers, and The New York Times. Skibell is currently a professor at the Creative Writing Program of Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, where he teaches English and Creative Writing. He has also lectured at the Bar-Ilan University in Israel, the Taos Summer Writers Conference, the Toronto Humber School for Writers, and the University of Wisconsin. Given that he spends most of his days either writing or teaching at Emory University, he does not have many leisure pursuits apart from reading. Nevertheless, during his time as the director of the Richard Ellman Lectures in Modern Literature, he was involved in some recreational guitar playing with Paul Simon and Margaret Atwood. As at 2014 – 2015, he worked at the Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry as a Senior Fellow.

“A Blessing on the Moon” is Joseph Skibell’s Holocaust inspired fable that has attained massive popularity among fans and critics alike since its publication in 1997. The lead character in the novel is a Jewish man Chaim Skibelski. For Chaim who is a Polish Jew, death which most of his fellow Jewish villager hope for is just the beginning of his troubles. In the opening pages of the novel, he gets shot alongside other Polish Jews, but he somehow gets out of his grave. He now finds himself in the company of a Rabbi who is living in the form of a crow and together they wander the earth. It is a novel full of adventure and a lot of humor as Chaim embarks on a journey of extraordinary encounters that may have far-reaching consequences. Set on revenge, his rabbi brings back to life hundreds of dead villagers who accompany them on their journeys across Poland. In adventures that include digging up the moon that had fallen out of its place in the sky, the novel is an innovative and creative work, and one of the most fun reads you could read in a while.

“A Curable Romantic” is Joseph Skibell’s most creative and original evocation of one of the darkest moments of the twentieth century. A historical and personal novel of exile, it tells the story of Jakob Sammelsohn a dyed in the wool romantic living in a world in transition even as he tries to hold on to old Jewish superstitions and traditions. His journey takes him from his home in the far reaches of Austria Hungary to 1890s Vienna, where he meets up with the eminent Dr. Sigmund Freud and Emma Eckstein his most famous patient. Enamored with the young woman, he finds that trying to court her is almost impossible, given that he is highly neurotic and has to deal with an amorous ghost from his past that constantly appears as a dybbuk. Forlorn and loveless, he resolves to cut his losses and move on. He soon finds himself deep into the Esperanto Movement, where he gets into a romantic relationship with Loe Bernfield its beautiful patron. He soon discovers that more often than not, his passion for his wife Loe is greater than his fervor for universal brotherhood and peace preached by the movement. It is not long before his involvement in the brotherhood and his marriage becomes even more complicated after the manipulative and sex starved dybbuk makes a reappearance. Will his past prevent him from following the true path to Utopia?

Book Series In Order » Authors » Joseph Skibell

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