The Golden Age Shtetl: A New History of Jewish Life in East Europe by Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern (Princeton University Press, 448 pages, March 30)
Ah, the "shtetl." Most of us probably think about Fiddler on the Roof when that word pops up, but Petrovsky-Shtern reveals the many other dimensions of shtetl life that had fallen out of memory. Home to most of East Europe's Jewish population during the 18th and 19th centuries, shtetls were centers of learning and trade, more vibrant than the poverty- and fear-stricken villages we might imagine. So if your Bubbe's birthday is coming up, you might consider giving her this. And your cheek to pinch, too. And you'll of course have to stay for a 10-course meal...just sayin'.
The Absence by Martin Stiff (Titan Comics, 272 pages, March 4)
Oh dear. That's one freaky-looking cover. But what a crazy-awesome-sounding plot! Here, psychological horror meets post-war mystery when a boy vanishes from his coastal village on Christmas Day and two men (one who just returned from the horrors of WWII) rouse the residents' suspicions. Cause these guys are...well...mysterious. And the ink-splatter artwork- very cool.
Greenwich Village Stories: A Collection of Memories ed. Judith Stonehill (Universe, 192 pages, March 25)
Travel through time and space with this collection of sixty stories by artists, writers, musicians, restaurateurs, and many others, all centering on their beloved Greenwich Village. I mean, think about your favorite writers, or favorite singers, and chances are one or more of them at some point hung out around the Village. Photographs and paintings included. I am there, you guys.