Award-winning Jewish novelist, Joan Leegant, to speak at URI, Oct. 7

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KINGSTON, R.I. — September 22, 2010 — The award-winning author of WHEREVER YOU GO, Joan Leegant, will speak at the University of Rhode Island about some of the challenges involved in writing fiction about contemporary Israel. Free and open to the public, her presentation will be held on Thursday, Oct. 7, at 7:30 p.m. at the Norman M. Fain Hillel Center, 6 Fraternity Circle, Kingston, RI. Leegant will read from and speak about her gripping new novel that is set in Israel and was published in July by W. W. Norton & Company.

How far are we willing to go in the name of a cause? What drives otherwise rational people to embrace radical religious and nationalist beliefs — and at what cost? These are the questions that run through Leegant’s timely novel, which brings to life the story of three young Jewish Americans in Israel caught in the vortex of radical political and religious beliefs. The Miami Herald described the book as “Pitch-perfect rendering of individuals torn between earthly and heavenly Jerusalems…. WHEREVER YOU GO is a lively, full novel by an elegant, ironic writer who handles the topics of terror and messianic violence as agilely as she does love and redemption.”

Previously a lawyer, for eight years Leegant taught writing at Harvard University. Since 2007 she has lived half the year in Tel Aviv, where she has been the visiting writer at Bar-Ilan University and a frequent lecturer for the United States State Department in Israel.

In reviewing her new novel, the North American national Jewish newspaper, the Forward, said: “Finally, a novel about Israel by an American Jew that’s written well and without sentimentality…There have been many important novels in English about Israel; Leegant’s is certainly among them.”

In 2004, for her story collection, An Hour in Paradise, Leegant won the PEN New England Book Award, the Wallant Award for Jewish Fiction and was named a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award.

The Women’s Studies Program, Hillel, the Political Science, History, Sociology and Anthropology, and Journalism departments and the Multicultural Center are co-sponsoring Leegant’s visit. The event will include a book signing.

For more about Leegant and WHEREVER YOU GO, visit For information about the program, please call the Women’s Studies Department at 401-874-4620 or URI Hillel at 401-874-2740.