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Love in the Time of Corona: Ayelet Gundar-Goshen on Jewish Mythology & Israeli Literature


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On May 28, award-winning author Ayelet Gundar-Goshen gave a thought-provoking and insightful talk on Jewish mythology and contemporary Israeli literature in times of catastrophe. The presentation was followed by a conversation with guest discussant, author, and book editor Jonathan Kirsch (Jewish Journal), and audience Q&A. Hosted by UCLA Professor Dov Waxman, Director of the Y&S Nazarian Center for Israel Studies.

About the Program 

Literature loves catastrophes – they reveal a person's true nature. For two thousand years, Jewish texts have faced this question: how should one behave when the world dissolves into chaos? In these moments we find ordinary men who turn into heroes, heroes who turn into villains, we find cruelty – but also grace, and love.  From Noah's Ark, through Amos Oz's Jerusalem under siege, isolation is depicted as both a curse – and an opportunity.  

Israeli author Ayelet Gundar-Goshen discussed Jewish mythology and contemporary Israeli literature in times of catastrophe. Her presentation was followed by a conversation with moderator Jonathan Kirsch.  Event was hosted by UCLA Professor Dov Waxman.

Originally recorded May 28, 2020.

About the Speaker

A clinical psychologist and acclaimed Israeli author, Ayelet Gundar-Goshen's first novel, One Night, Markovitch, won the Sapir Prize in 2012 for debut novels, the Italian Adei-Wizo Prize, and the French Adei-Wizo Prize. The novel was long-listed for the Italian Sinbad Prize, and for Grand prix des lectrices de Elle. It has been translated to 14 languages.

Gundar-Goshen's second novel, Waking Lions, won the 2017 Jewish Quarterly-Wingate Prize. The New York Times Book Review picked Waking Lions as "Editors' Choice", and The Wall Street Journal selected it for its "Best Summer Reads" list. Her critically acclaimed third novel, The Liar, came out in English in fall 2019 and picked as an Elle Magazine 2019 Best Book of the Year.

Gundar-Goshen is a contributor to BBC's The Cultural Frontline, Financial Times, Time Magazine and The Telegraph. Ayelet has lectured at UC Berkeley, Columbia University, UCLA, and Carleton College, among other institutions.

She also has written screenplays for TV and cinema in Israel. Gundar-Goshen holds a master's degree in psychology from Tel Aviv University and studied screenwriting at Sam Spiegel Film School in Jerusalem.


About the Moderator

Jonathan Kirsch is the author of 13 books, the book editor of the Jewish Journal, a book reviewer for the Washington Post, and a publishing attorney. He has written books about the Bible as literature and the history of religion, as well as several novels and books about law.


About the Host

Dov Waxman is a Professor and The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation Chair in Israel Studies at UCLA, where he also directs the UCLA Y&S Nazarian Center for Israel Studies. He joined the UCLA faculty in January 2020. An award-winning teacher, he previously was professor of political science, international affairs, and Israel studies, and the Stotsky Professor of Jewish Historical and Cultural Studies at Northeastern University.



Organized by the Y&S Nazarian Center for Israel Studies and co-sponsored by the UCLA Department of English, Department of Near Eastern Languages & Cultures, Center for Near Eastern Studies, and Center for the Study of Religion.

Promotional partners: Diesel, A Bookstore in Brentwood, CA, and the Jewish Book Council.