Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Poker Writer Who Never Plays Poker



2005 World Series of Poker
Poker writer? Well, not exactly. Never play poker? Well, sometimes. Let me explain.

For eleven years I was more a poker promoter than a poker writer, although I frequently used my writing to promote the game. I was employed by an online gaming company and served as head of a marketing team encouraging players, veterans and novices alike, to play poker. We made our money collecting rake and tournament fees.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Book that Led Me to Bosnia



Well, actually two books. The first - an illuminated Hebrew manuscript from the 15th century. The other - a novel by prize-winning Australian-born author Geraldine Brooks. The two books converged in Sarajevo and I was compelled to visit.

The manuscript is the famed Sarajevo Haggadah, the most prized treasure in all of Bosnia and Herzegovina. A Haggadah is a narrative of the Exodus read at the Passover Seder service. Sarajevo's 109-page text is unique because it is handwritten on bleached calfskin, and illuminated in copper and gold, with colorful depictions of Biblical scenes.


Friday, October 14, 2016

Promoting My Novel on Bulgarian Television



My novel THE BURGAS AFFAIR made its world premiere in the Bulgarian language in May, when it was published by Ciela, the leading Bulgarian publishing house. The novel has yet to be published in its original English edition.

I traveled to Bulgaria in June to promote the novel - Бургаската афера. I was interviewed by a number of local newspapers and appeared on two television programs. And I attended the official launch of the novel at the main Ciela bookstore in Sofia.


Monday, October 10, 2016

In Search of Utopia in Israel



In 1988 at the age of 20, David Leach dropped out of university and went to Israel to volunteer on a kibbutz. Leach wasn’t Jewish; he didn’t know the first thing about farming. All he had heard was that a kibbutz was “a cooperative farming village where backpackers could swap manual labor in fields or factories for room and board.” The idea of living in a Biblical, exotic land filled with history and adventure appealed to him, as did the thought of living, at least for a short time, like a true utopian.

Fast forward twenty-five years. Leach, by then an acclaimed journalist and author of literary nonfiction, returned to Israel in search of the freewheeling days of his youth. The kibbutz movement, based on the principle of “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need,” was celebrating its centennial. Leach wondered if the kibbutz and its “bold utopian spirit had taken flight and if that original willingness to experiment with new ways of living still existed.”