Jonathan Safran Foer boosts Jerusalem culture

August 19, 2010

Two of America's leading young Jewish novelists, husband and wife Jonathan Safran Foer and Nicole Krauss, have spearheaded a cultural initiative in Jerusalem: the revival of the Jerusalem Fellows at Mishkenot Sha'ananim.

Mishkenot, a cultural hub in the shadow of Yemin Moshe, the capital's famous windmill, used regularly to host artists, writers and musicians when the late Teddy Kollek was mayor of Jerusalem.

Time, money and politics meant that the invitations and acceptances dried up, but they were revived this summer by Mishkenot's director-general Uri Dromi, in co-operation with New York's Foundation for Jewish Culture.

The first guests, besides Mr Foer and Ms Krauss, were visual artist Shelley Jordon, choreographer/dancer Reggie Wilson and urban planner Josh Sirefman.

Mr Foer and Ms Krauss were named by the New Yorker magazine as two of the world's 20 most influential novelists aged under 40. Mr Foer, best known for his breakthrough novel Everything is Illuminated, told Time Out New York: "Ostensibly, writers, unlike visual artists or choreographers, do not really need to commune with their environment.

"But when you're staying in the same room in which Saul Bellow wrote To Jerusalem and Back and Amos Oz wrote chapters of A Tale of Love and Darkness, you're placed within a special context.

"Then you roam the streets and the special Jerusalem atmosphere entices you to leave your shell."

His wife, novelist Nicole Krauss, author of The History of Love, said: " I can tell you that I am actually in the place I'm writing about for my next book.

"When I needed to speak to a judge, because I have such a character in my book, people referred me to one who was eager to talk to me. There is nothing like Jerusalem anywhere else in the world."

Last updated: 1:18pm, October 12 2010