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A Convergence of Birds
Jonathan Safran Foer
publisher: Querido, Amsterdam, 2001

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When he was still a college student, Jonathan Safran Foer began writing to famous poets and writers, asking them to create original poetry and fiction based on the diorama-like Bird Boxes of collage artist Joseph Cornell. Twenty writers and poets responded, among them former poet laureate Robert Pinsky, Joyce Carol Oates, Paul West, Rick Moody, Howard Norman, Robert Coover, Dale Peck, Diane Ackerman and Barry Lopez and A Convergence of Birds: Original Fiction and Poetry Inspired by the Work of Joseph Cornell is the result. It includes color reproductions of Cornell's Boxes (28 color illustrations in all).


The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman
Laurence Sterne, 1759-1767
Part novel, part digression, this gloriously disordered narrative interweaves the birth and life of the unfortunate 'hero' Tristram Shandy, the eccentric philosophy of his father Walter, the amours and military obsessions of Uncle Toby, and a host of other characters.

A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy
Laurence Sterne, 1768
'I have laid a plan for something new, quite out of the beaten track'. The result, A Sentimental Journey is as far from the conventional travel book as Tristram Shandy is from other novels.

The Adventures of Augie March
Saul Bellow, 1953
Fictional autobiography of a rumbustious adventurer and poker-player who sets off from his native Chicago in the spirit of a latter-day Columbus to rediscover the world - and more - especially, 20th century America.

Slaughterhouse 5
Kurt Vonnegut, 1969
Billy Pilgrim, a very young infantry scout, is captured in the Battle of the Bulge and quartered in a Dresden slaughterhouse where he and other prisoners are employed in the production of a vitamin supplement for pregnant women.

Midnight's Children
Salman Rushdie, 1981
Born at the midnight of India's independence, Saleem is 'handcuffed to history' by the coincidence. He is one of 1001 children born that midnight, each of them endowed with an extraordinary talent.

The Tin Drum
Günter Grass, 1959
"Danzig Trilogy": I
A scathing dissection of the years from 1925-1955 through the eyes of Oskar, the dwarf whose manic beating on the toy of his childhood fantastically counterpoints the horrors of Germany and Poland under the Nazis.

Operation Shylock
Philip Roth, 1993
A novel in which Philip Roth confronts his double, an imposter whose self-appointed task is to lead the Jews not into, but out of Israel, and back to Europe.

The Stories of Bernard Malamud
Bernard Malamud, 1983
Many of the characters in these short stories are Jewish, but through the author's gentle exploration of their predicaments, he illuminates a region that is common to everyone.


Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Nine-year-old Oskar careens from Central Park to Coney Island searching for a lock to fit the mysterious key left by his now deceased father.

Windows on the World
Frédéric Beigbeder, 2003
A daring, moving fictional account of the last moments of a father and his two sons atop the World Trade Center on September 11.

Specimen Days
Michael Cunningham, 2005
Three linked visionary narratives about the relationship between man and machine.

The Good Life
Jay McInerney, 2006
Jay McInerney revisits ten years on some of the characters that populated Brightness Falls, whose lives have been transformed by 9/11.

Author, 0000
We're looking for works of fiction (and literary non-fiction) in which Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island play a prominent role... Suggestions welcome! Send your thoughts to

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Mark Haddon, 2003
A fantastically unusual detective story written from the perspective of an autistic boy.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Mark Twain, 1884-1885
The story of Huck and his companion Jim, a runaway slave, as they travel down the Mississippi to escape from slavery and 'sivilization'.

Eve's Apple
Jonathan Rosen, 1997
A journey into the heart of Ruth Simon, a young woman struggling to overcome the eating disorder that nearly killed her in her teenage years and still haunts her in adulthood. The story is told through the eyes and voice of her lover, Joseph.

Man Walks Into a Room
Nicole Krauss, 2002
Samson Greene, a young and popular professor at Columbia, is found wandering in the Nevada desert. When his wife, Anna, comes to bring him home, she finds a man who remembers nothing, not even his own name. The removal of a small brain tumor saves his life, but his memories beyond the age of twelve are permanently lost.

Kaaterskill Falls
Allegra Goodman, 1998
Allegra Goodman's first novel intertwines the stories of three Orthodox Jewish families, each of whom is tugged between religious tradition and the secular world.

For the Relief of Unbearable Urges
Nathan Englander, 1999
A collection of stories that are centered around the Orthodox Jewish community and span the Jewish experience from the Holocaust and Stalin's Russia to modern-day New York and Jerusalem.

Everything is Illuminated
A young, Jewish American writer's search for his family's European roots.
A Convergence of Birds
Anthology of fiction and poetry inspired by the work of Joseph Cornell, edited by Jonathan Safran Foer.
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