Left Coast Writers® Events

Left Coast Writers®: Matti Friedman - Spies of No Country (Corte Madera Store)

Monday, March 4, 2019 - 7:00pm

Presented in Partnership with JIMENA: Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa

The four spies at the center of this story were part of a ragtag unit known as the Arab Section, conceived during World War II by British spies and Jewish militia leaders in Palestine. Intended to gather intelligence and carry out sabotage and assassinations, the unit consisted of Jews who were native to the Arab world and could thus easily assume Arab identities. In 1948, with Israel’s existence in the balance during the War of Independence, our spies went undercover in Beirut, where they spent the next two years operating out of a kiosk, collecting intelligence, and sending messages back to Israel via a radio whose antenna was disguised as a clothesline. While performing their dangerous work these men were often unsure to whom they were reporting, and sometimes even who they’d become. Of the dozen spies in the Arab Section at the war’s outbreak, five were caught and executed. But in the end the Arab Section would emerge, improbably, as the nucleus of the Mossad, Israel’s vaunted intelligence agency.

Spies of No Country is about the slippery identities of these young spies, but it’s also about Israel’s own complicated and fascinating identity. Israel sees itself and presents itself as a Western nation, when in fact more than half the country has Middle Eastern roots and traditions, like the spies of this story. And, according to Friedman, that goes a long way toward explaining the life and politics of the country, and why it often baffles the West. For anyone interested in real-life spies and the paradoxes of the Middle East, Spies of No Country is an intimate story with global significance.

Matti Friedman’s 2016 book Pumpkinflowers was chosen as a New York Times Notable Book and as one of Amazon’s 10 Best Books of the Year. It was selected as one of the year’s best by Booklist, Mother Jones, Foreign Affairs, the National Post, and the Globe and Mail. His first book, The Aleppo Codex, won the 2014 Sami Rohr Prize, the ALA’s Sophie Brody Medal, and the Canadian Jewish Book Award for history. A former AssociatedPress correspondent, Friedman has reported from Israel, Lebanon, Morocco, Moscow, the Caucasus, and Washington, DC, and his writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Washington Post, and elsewhere. Friedman grew up in Toronto and now lives with his family in Jerusalem. 

 

Spies of No Country: Secret Lives at the Birth of Israel Cover Image
$26.95
ISBN: 9781616207229
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Algonquin Books - March 5th, 2019

Award-winning writer Matti Friedman’s tale of Israel’s first spies has all the tropes of an espionage novel, including duplicity, betrayal, disguise, clandestine meetings, the bluff, and the double bluff--but it’s all true.

The four spies at the center of this story were part of a ragtag unit known as the Arab Section, conceived during World War II by Brit


51 Tamal Vista Blvd
Corte Madera, CA 94925

Left Coast Writers®: Niloufar Talebi - Self-Portrait in Bloom (Corte Madera Store)

Saturday, April 13, 2019 - 7:00pm

Author and award-winning translator Niloufar Talebi offers a rare glimpse into her native Iran in Self-Portrait in Bloom, her part-memoir, part-biography, and part-history of literature in Iran, a “brutally honest memoir of a life built by words, destroyed by words, rebuilt by words,” (Firoozeh Dumas, New York Times bestselling author of Funny in Farsi and Laughing Without an Accent).

Iranian poets were increasingly instrumental in “freeing Persian poetry from the state of decline and stagnation” in the aftermath of World War II, when a new dynamism was taking shape in Persian poetry. Into this backdrop emerges the poet Ahmad Shamlou (1925-2000), an iconic cultural figure who spent much time in Talebi’s childhood home. “There are two books in this book, one portrait of me and one of Ahmad Shamlou. And they intersect,” Talebi writes of Self-Portrait in Bloom. Released in the 40th anniversary year of the Iranian revolution, it delves deep into culture, personal history, and pays homage to Tehran, the city of Talebi’s childhood. Told in fragments of prose, poetry, and photographs, this lyrical exploration reimagines the memoir form and in a dramatic climax sets free the details of a hurt that can no longer limit the blossoming of an artist.

Niloufar Talebi is a writer, award-winning translator, creator, and producer. Her work has been featured at the Kennedy Center, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and she has received commissions from Carnegie Hall, Cal Performances, and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Her projects include Belonging, Epiphany, The Persian Rite of Spring, and ICARUS/RISE. Her work has been published in World Literature Today, PBS Frontline, Rattapallax, and Poetry International. Her TEDxBerkeley talk on Match 9, 2019, is about the transformative power of translation and visibility. She is the author of the Self-Portrait in Bloom (l’Aleph, 2019), and the creator/librettist of its related opera, Abraham in Flames, which world premieres in San Francisco on May 9-12, 2019.

 

 

 

51 Tamal Vista Blvd.
Corte Madera, CA 94925