I’m proud and excited to be offering this interview with literary light Erika Dreifus.
Reviewing Dreifus’s short story collection QUIET AMERICANS for The Quivering Pen, David Abrams said: “She’s a classic storyteller and there’s a clear, direct line from Isaac Bashevis Singer and Bernard Malamud to her 21st-century keyboard.”
I highly recommend following Erika Dreifus on Twitter and Facebook, as she often directs our attention to matters important to the literary and Jewish communities. Imagine that on her website every Friday, Erika publishes “My Machberet,” a collection of pre-Shabbat Jewish literary links.
1) Please tell us a little about your short story collection Quiet Americans.
Quiet Americans is a collection of seven short stories, inspired directly and indirectly by the histories and experiences of my paternal grandparents—German Jews who fled to the United States in the late 1930s and met and married here—and by my perceptions of this family legacy. The stories range in temporal/geographic setting from Wilhelmine Germany to post-9/11 New York/New Jersey, and they feature characters from multiple generations. Readers can learn much more about the collection on my website.
2) And please tell us something about your Practicing Writer Newsletter.
I launched The Practicing Writer in February 2004 as a free resource for fictionists, poets, and writers of creative nonfiction. Each monthly issue offers a feature article, a recommended resource, and numerous contest listings and submission calls. In contrast to many other such newsletters, The Practicing Writer shares only opportunities (contests and calls) that a) do not charge submission or reading fees and b) pay writers for their published/winning work. Readers can see the current newsletter issue on my website (and subscribe there, too).
3) Erika Dreifus serves as Media Editor for Fig Tree Books. Fig Tree Books’ website tagline reads “Publishing the Best Literature of the American Jewish Experience.” I asked Erika to tell us more about Fig Tree Books’ mission.
Fig Tree Books publishes novels and nonfiction (including memoirs) that chronicle and enlighten the beautiful and sometimes challenging mosaic of the American Jewish Experience in three ways, by:
- Selecting new voices;
- Working with previously published authors;
- Re-publishing important works that have gone out of print.
4) What is one of your favorite novels set in Berlin, and what about it do you like?
“Favorite” is tough, but the question reminds me of, among other novels, Chloe Aridjis’s Book of Clouds; readers can check what I wrote for Fiction Writers Review when the novel was published to find out what I liked about it!
(Ed. — Do be sure to read Erika Dreifus’s fascinating review of Book of Clouds).
5) What is one of your favorite novels set in NYC, and what about it do you like?
This one’s easy to identify: Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I read it as a child, and I reread at least once each year. I can’t explain exactly why I’m so drawn to it, but I’m sure that the many similarities between protagonist Francie Nolan and me—we’re both Brooklyn-born grandchildren of immigrants; we’re both elder siblings; we’re both in love with books and with writing—have something to do with that.
6) On what new writing projects are you currently working?
Most of my creative writing these days takes the form of poems. I’m lucky that many of these poems are being published individually; I hope that I’ll soon have a full-length manuscript ready to begin sending out to publishers. This much I am fairly certain of: the Germany-America “bridge” will appear there as well!
Erika Dreifus’s website is here.