Peter Manseau’s “Songs for the Butcher’s Daughter” excerpt

Happy to read today that Peter Manseau’s debut novel Songs for the Butcher’s Daughter is excerpted on nextbook.org. Peter, the co-founder of the religion website Killing the Buddha and author of the memoir Vows: The Story of a Priest, a Nun and Their Son, will be reading from his book along with poet Janet Kirchheimer at the Hyman S. & Freda Bernstein Jewish Literary Festival on Thursday, September 18 at 7:00 pm.

The excerpt from the book deals with the famous blood libel that helped spark the Kishinev pogrom, which serves as a central plot point in the novel’s narrative.

Of course! Who else, oh wise men of Dubossary? Who but the Jews would kill a boy and leave him on the roadside for a Christian peasant to piss on? Who but the Jews would be so stealthy in their motives yet so careless in their execution? Who but the Jews would build their own gallows, tie their own nooses, and hire the hangmen to stretch their necks? All these years later, it remains baffling to me that Jews know this same lie has been told for a thousand years, while Christians hear it each time as a revelation. That we should be judged and murdered by such imbeciles is sorely vexing. With a Cossack’s boot on his neck, a Moldovan dirt farmer would strain himself to ask who was the Jew that knocked him down.

But such is the world. And such was our corner of it in those days that provisions traveled with difficulty over our rattling roads, but words moved like fire. Through the next three months, as I grew in my mother’s womb, the lies of Dubossary impregnated our city and likewise grew, waiting for the day when they might burst forth wailing in blood.

Read the full excerpt here

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Bernard-Henri Lévy coming to DC via Tblisi and Gori

UPDATED: This event has sold-out, but you can submit a question for BHL and have it answered online.

This year’s Gerald L. Bernstein Memorial Lecture will be delivered Saturday, September 20 by Bernard-Henri Lévy at La Maison Française at the Embassy of France. His new book, Left in Dark Times: A Stand Against the New Barbarism, “scrutinizes the totalitarianisms of the past as well as those on the horizon, and argues powerfully for a new political and moral vision for our times.”

Although BHL (as he is known in France) came to greater American attention only in 2003 for his investigative book, Who Killed Daniel Pearl?, he has for decades been a leading philosopher/journalist in France who cut his teeth covering the 1971 Bangladeshi War of Independence from Pakistan. So perhaps it is not surprising that he was recently in Georgia to observe the situation on the ground in Tblisi and Gori which he recounts in the Huffington Post:

As we approach Gori, the situation is different, the tension is suddenly palpable. Georgian jeeps are sprawled in the ditches on the sides of the road. Farther along is a burnt-out tank. Even farther along is a more important check point which completely blocks the group of journalists we have joined. And it is here that we are clearly told that we are no longer welcome, “You are in Russian territory now,” barks an officer puffed up with importance. “Only those with Russian accreditation may go farther.”

The post ranges from the war-torn streets of Gori and Kaspi to the inner-sanctum of besieged Georgian President Saakashvili to a suprising admission from a Russian General regarding Israel’s support for the Georgian army, “We summoned the Israeli Foreign Minister to Moscow. And he was told that if he continues to supply arms to the Georgians we would continue to supply Hezbollah and Hamas.” BHL concludes his essay with a moral charge sure to resonate with the themes of his talk on September 20, “Either we are capable of raising our voice and saying STOP to Putin in Georgia. Or the man who went, in his own words, “down into the toilets” to kill the civilians in Chechnya will feel he has the right to do the same thing to any one of his neighbors. Is this how we will build Europe, peace and the world of tomorrow?”

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