Tuesday, July 12, 2016

What is Simone Zelitch reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Simone Zelitch, author of Judenstaat.

Her entry begins:
A few weeks ago, I picked up a book that had been on my shelf for a while, Rasheeda Phillips’s Recurrence Plot and Other Time Travel Tales. Rasheeda took a fiction class with me years ago, and she’s a housing attorney with with Community Legal Services, as well as the creator of The Afrofuturist Affair. When is the last time a book gave me actual nightmares? This one did.

Recurrence Plot begins the day a woman turns twenty-one. She gave birth at the age of fourteen—like her mother before her—a path that feels inevitable; she takes her own life on her twenty-first birthday—like her mother before her. Her daughter grows up remembering the future, and the power tamped down by medication. A home-made time-machine creates connections between her past and future selves, with ambiguous consequences. She investigates a research institute at the fictional, sinister Parallel University which experiments on young black teens who are “at risk” for criminal behavior, assuming that their lives lead in one direction: they emerge hardened and changed.

The book interpolates expository passages about how the brain and body process time, as well as allusions to quantum physics, and segments that feel like a “choose your own adventure story” or are intended to be read backwards. Does time only flow forward? Is its direction inevitable? These questions are played out in poor African-American communities in my hometown of Philadelphia. Recurrence Plot is...[read on]
About Judenstaat, from the publisher:
Simone Zelitch has created an amazing alternate history in Judenstaat. On April 4th, 1948 the sovereign state of Judenstaat was created in the territory of Saxony, bordering Germany, Poland, and Czechoslovakia.

Forty years later, Jewish historian Judit Klemmer is making a documentary portraying Judenstaat's history from the time of its founding to the present. She is haunted by the ghost of her dead husband, Hans, a Saxon, shot by a sniper as he conducted the National Symphony. With the grief always fresh, Judit lives a half-life, until confronted by a mysterious, flesh-and-blood ghost from her past who leaves her controversial footage on one of Judenstaat's founding fathers--and a note:

"They lied about the murder."

Judit's research into the footage, and what really happened to Hans, embroils her in controversy and conspiracy, collective memory and national amnesia, and answers far more horrific than she imagined.
Visit Simone Zelitch's website.

The Page 69 Test: Judenstaat.

My Book, The Movie: Judenstaat.

Writers Read: Simone Zelitch.

--Marshal Zeringue