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Saturday, 3 March 2012

New American Haggadah

Do you find it curious that Librairie Drawn and Quarterly, a comic book store, is carrying the newly-released New American Haggadah? Oh, but there is a plethora of reasons as to why we have it in stock! Aside from the obvious, that we are located in a largely Jewish neighborhood, it offers an alternative, contemporary perspective on the traditional text through a new translation by Nathan Englander and through a focus on the visual. Oded Ezer, the designer of the book, explains:

"Jews have been designing Haggadahs for more than one hundred generations. Deliberately, or not, these designs have inevitably reflected the time in which they were made. The notion behind the design of this book was to merge, visually, the history of the Jewish nation with the traditional text of the Haggadah. Toward the end, the letterforms on each page reflect those used in the period reflected in the timeline at the top of the page. In this way, the book is a graphic record of Jewish history.''



Edited by Jonathan Safran Foer, the New American Haggadah contains the original Hebrew text and Englander's translated text side by side for comparison. I first heard about this book through a wonderful (wonderful!) Terry Gross interview with Englander on Fresh Air (which you can listen to here), in which he describes the text as something "you should literally read [...] and weep. It is so beautiful. It is just such a moving document [...]"

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