Author: Bram Presser

Not many people know this, but I wrote large chunks of The Book of Dirt in a basement in Huntington Woods. It was bloody cold, but it was the isolation chamber I needed. Well, I've been dying to get back there so I'm absolutely thrilled to come full circle this November, when I'll be back in town for the amazing Detroit Jewish Book Fair. I'll be talking all things dirt, punk rock, family secrets and the future of Holocaust fiction at 1.30pm on Sunday November 10 at the Charach Gallery. Hope to see you all there! Full session details can be found here!...

The cutting room floor is full of passages that I still really love but that didn't quite fit in the book. I have a particularly soft spot for Beit Terezín, and this intro from the original manuscript gives you more of an idea of its beautiful history. The dream of a permanent living monument to the Nazis' model camp first took hold in May 1955, at a gathering in Israel of about one hundred and fifty survivors. Its primary stated aim was to honour the memory of those who had perished in the Holocaust, but those gathered identified another, much more practical, need for such an institution. Back in Czechoslovakia, the Communist regime was recasting the Holocaust to exclude Jews as the primary targets of Nazi barbarism. Indeed, annihilation of Czech Jewry was, in the new regime's eyes, merely coincidental. Jews featured prominently amongst the political prisoners and intelligentsia who met their deaths in either the Small Fortress, that corner of Theresienstadt used as both prison and execution ground, or in the death camps to the east, and this accounted for the disproportionate number of them in the final tally. But it was for their political affiliations that they were targeted,...

After an amazing trip overseas (thanks Jewish Book Council, McNally Jackson and, especially, Stefan Merrill Block), I'll be back in Australia next week just in time for a couple of awesome events. Hope you can make it to one (or both)! Emerging Writers Festival Literature and Trauma with Maria Tumarkin, Anders Villani and Eda Gunaydin. 23 June 1.30pm Wheeler Centre FREE. Details Here. Glen Eira Storytelling Festival 30 Years of Writers Victoria Panel with Christos Tsiolkas, Jamie Marina Lau and Enza Gandolfo Wednesday 26 June 7.30pm Glen Eira Town Hall $10. Tickets Here. [caption id="attachment_626" align="aligncenter" width="690"] With Stefan Merrill Block at McNally Jackson SoHo[/caption] [caption id="attachment_627" align="aligncenter" width="688"] Dishing dirt at McNally Jackson[/caption]...

Plutzing! I'm on the latest episode of Tablet Magazine's awesome Unorthodox podcast, chatting to Stephanie about digging the dirt on my family, forcing people to drink unsavoury liquids from rams' horns and that time we bumped into each other at the National Jewish Book Awards, apologised profusely, then retracted it when we realised it was just us. Also on the podcast is Jackie Hoffman and Motl Didner from Yiddish Fiddler on the Roof. So basically, I'm one degree from Broadway. And Tevye....

I'm thrilled to be making my New York bookstore debut this Tuesday at the the legendary McNally Jackson in Soho. I'll be chatting to bestselling author and all-round excellent guy Stefan Merrill Block about family secrets, golems, extraordinary feats of survival and the dangers of chasing hidden histories. It's free and going to be pretty ace so I'd love to see you there! Tuesday May 28 7pm McNally Jackson 52 Prince St NY, NY Check out the event page here....

In the original manuscript of The Book of Dirt, when Jakub and his friends are farewelling Jiri Langer at the pub, Langer gets into an argument with Pavel Stein (a character who, alas, remains on the cutting room floor). Stein is angry that Langer would abandon his homeland in pursuit of a fool's errand. To make his point, Stein tells the old Hassidic story of Eisek Yekls, knowing that Langer himself had used it in his book, The Nine Gates. You might recognise it as the story on which Paolo Coelho based The Alchemist. *** “L’chaim!” Josef thrust his glass forward awkwardly, hoping to avoid further argument. “To my brother and his ever-shifting ideals! To the last, great wandering Jew.” “He’ll be back.” Stein would not let go. “Jiří knows all too well what is written in the Talmud: If somebody tells you I have looked but did not find, do not believe him. And if he tells you I did not look but I have found, also do not believe him. But if he tells you: I have looked and I have found, you must believe him for he speaks the truth. Yes, after the war he’ll return. Mark my words.” Jiři blushed....

It's been far too long since I posted here but it's all been certifiably nuts at the moment so I'm glad to have some quiet time to let you know what's been going on. I recently had a great little trip over to New York for the National Jewish Book Awards. Was an absolute thrill to receive the Goldberg Prize for Debut Fiction in person, and to meet so many awesome people.   While I was there, I did a couple of ace podcasts with people who, I will now say with considerable confidence, are better than New York pastrami. Yeah, THAT awesome. Check 'em out here.   I've also had a couple of pieces published.  The first, at Electric Literature, is on awesome, obscure Holocaust novels you may have never heard about but should totally check out. The other, at LitHub, had me reflecting on what got me started on The Book of Dirt. Huge thanks also to Curt Schleier for his feature on my chequered punk past and the National Jewish Book Award that was syndicated in papers internationally, including in USA, Canada, UK and Israel. Lots of big stuff coming soon! Hopefully I won't be quite so slack keeping you in...

I've recently done two great podcast interviews that I'm excited to share with you. First up is Words and Nerds, where Dani and I chatted all things writing, memory, family and mythology. You can check it out here! Also, while I was in America, I sat down with the legendary David Wilk for Writerscast, which you can listen to here....