Ten well-written tales that provide subtle insights into the Jewish experience.

BEGINNERS' MINYAN

A COLLECTION OF SHORT STORIES

Gadol’s debut collection comprises 10 stories on various aspects of Jewish life.

“Minyan” is the Hebrew word for a quorum of 10 Jewish adults, which is required for some religious obligations and ceremonies, the most common being public prayer. These 10 stories are the author’s attempt to come to terms with his heritage. In “Treyf Day,” a daughter’s relationship with her mother is laden with religion, guilt and the weight of Jewish law, which (her mother tells her) forbids sleepovers and the wearing of rhinestones. “Villa Puesta Del Sol” examines life in a Florida retirement community, where a woman who eats paper also jockeys for position in a mahjong circle and uncovers the secret to the brisket recipe of a deceased acquaintance. “What’s Up, Kike?” features a young lawyer who uses derogatory terms to refer to Jews; he eventually comes to realize that he’s not mature enough for parenthood. In “The Coup,” a Jewish boy ensures that his father’s place in a congregation is secure from the threat of an interloper. In each of Gadol’s stories, the writing is clear, crisp and concise. The collection’s unifying theme is reflecting upon life as a Jew: the importance of story, tradition, law, family, ceremony and guilt. Stories range from inventive (“the story ends...with four knives stuck in a ficus, and me forbidden to wear mohair”) to humorous (“The only difference between Rice-A-Roni with fried beef in America and in Africa is that we don’t have flies crawling on our faces here”). Some passages are exquisitely beautiful, particularly the story “M’Dor L’Dor,” in which a father reflects upon the meaning of his daughter’s Bat Mitzvah by recalling his boyhood chrysalis. At times, however, this beauty is achieved at the expense of the stories’ pacing.

Ten well-written tales that provide subtle insights into the Jewish experience.

Pub Date: May 12, 2011

ISBN: 978-0983759300

Page Count: 188

Publisher: Clothesline Books

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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A persuasive, valuable addition to the ongoing immigration reform debate.

SHOW TRIALS

HOW PROPERTY GETS MORE LEGAL PROTECTION THAN PEOPLE IN OUR FAILED IMMIGRATION SYSTEM

A highly organized, informative discussion of the immigration system in the United States.

In this politically charged environment, Afrasiabi manages to broach the volatile issue of immigration in a well-rounded, surprisingly effective framework that combines case studies, historical research, statistical analysis and personal anecdotes to detail the current issues and propose solutions. Invocations of Kafka, “The Twilight Zone” and “Alice in Wonderland” prove warranted as illustrations of the often surreal circumstances that confront immigrants facing deportation. Immigrants usually lack access to quality legal representation, while their situation can be made doubly difficult due to language barriers and significant cultural differences. Afrasiabi incorporates his work with colleagues and students at the Chapman University School of Law to deftly weave together the facts of several compelling cases and their underlying legal issues, with a genuine sense of suspense as readers wonder if justice will be truly be served. Occasionally, though, the narrative becomes overwrought—two federal laws passed in 1996 are “dark storm clouds depositing their sleet”—although, considering the life-changing effects of court decisions, it’s difficult to overstate the ramifications: extralegal rendition of individuals with pending cases and the de facto deportation of native-born children whose parents are deported. Afrasiabi also addresses the legacy of various anti-alien laws in California, as well as marriage equality for same-sex couples when one partner is a noncitizen. As the subtitle asserts, Afrasiabi employs his additional experience in the field of property law to contrast the stark differences between immigration judges and constitutional judges, like their qualifications, vetting processes and even the oaths they take. His arguments culminate in seven concrete reforms proposed in the conclusion. In order to make the immigration system more just and effective, Afrasiabi claims the solutions are closer than we may think; we can implement procedures and safeguards already in place within the constitutional courts.

A persuasive, valuable addition to the ongoing immigration reform debate.

Pub Date: May 1, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 249

Publisher: Kurti Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2012

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Despite this, Walkley’s beefy prose and rousing action sequences deliver a thriller to satisfy any adrenaline addict.

NO REMORSE

Walkley pits CIA agents against a maniacal Saudi prince intent on starting World War III in this debut thriller.

Delta Force operative Lee McCloud, aka Mac, finds himself in Mexico, trying to rescue two teenage girls kidnapped by a drug cartel. But things go from bad to worse when the villains don’t play by the rules. Framed for two murders he didn’t commit, Mac has two options: go to prison or go to work for a CIA black-op group run by the devious Wisebaum, who hacks into terrorists’ bank accounts and confiscates millions of dollars. However, there’s more going on than meets the eye; Saudi Prince Khalid is in possession of nuclear canisters, with which he hopes to alter world history. Khalid also dabbles in trafficking young women, and harvesting and selling human organs. When Wisebaum’s black-op team targets Khalid’s father, the action becomes even more intense. With so many interweaving subplots—kidnapped girls, Israeli undercover agents, nuclear weapons and a secret underwater hideout—it could be easy to lose track of what’s going on. But the author’s deft handling of the material ensures that doesn’t occur; subplots are introduced at the appropriate junctures and, by story’s end, all are accounted for and neatly concluded. Mac is portrayed as a rough and ready action-hero, yet his vulnerabilities will evoke empathy in readers. He finds a love interest in Tally, a hacker whose personality is just quirky enough to complement his own. All Walkley’s primary characters are fleshed out and realistic, with the exception of Wisebaum—a malicious, double-dealing, back-stabber of the worst ilk; the reader is left wondering about Wisebaum’s motivations behind such blatant treachery.

Despite this, Walkley’s beefy prose and rousing action sequences deliver a thriller to satisfy any adrenaline addict.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0980806601

Page Count: 412

Publisher: Marq Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2012

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