23 Jewish Books We’re Looking Forward to in 2023

From female detective mysteries to fantasy novels steeped in mysticism and Mizrahi marriage plots, there’s something here for everyone!

Let’s be real, a New Year’s resolution is oftentimes closer to a lofty ideal than a realistic goal. I cannot even count the number of times I told myself on January 1 that the new year would be one of saving money or unplugging from social media or drinking more water, only to find myself deeply dehydrated while flipping between Twitter and online shopping on my phone by January 8.

That said, I have a New Year’s resolution for 2023: Last year I read an embarrassingly low number of books, and this year I want to change that! “But Evelyn,” you’re probably asking, “how will this year be different from all other years?”

Great question!

In order to achieve this goal, I’ve decided to lean on Jewishness, a topic that I will literally never tire of reading about. Thankfully for all of us Jewish readers, there is a long list of Jewish books coming out this year! From female detective mysteries to fantasy novels steeped in mysticism and even Mizrahi marriage plots, there’s a book here for everyone!

In order of publication date, here are 23 Jewish books to look out for 2023.

1. “The Diaries of Franz Kafka” by Franz Kafka (trans. Ross Benjamin)

20th century writer Franz Kafka has long been our nebbische Jewish icon, and now we are getting a brand new, uncensored translation of his diary entries from 1909-1923. Baruch Hashem! This volume, deemed an “invaluable addition to Kafka’s oeuvre” by the New York Times, includes accounts of daily events, reflections, literary sketches, letter drafts, recounting of dreams and finished stories. Read it if you’re into stream of consciousness thoughts and waking up as a giant bug.

This book was released on January 10. You can get it here.

2. “The 12th Commandment” by Daniel Torday

Murder! Redemption! Sin! You’ll find this, and much more, in “The 12th Commandment.” The synopsis, per Macmillan, is: “The Dönme sect—a group of Jewish-Islamic adherents with ancient roots—lives in an isolated community on rural land outside of smalltown Mt. Izmir, Ohio. Self-sustaining, deeply-religious, and heavily-armed, they have followed their self-proclaimed prophet, Natan of Flatbush, from Brooklyn to this new land. But the brutal murder of Natan’s teenage son throws their tight community into turmoil.”

I would also be remiss if I did not share this absolutely delightful review from Michelle Zauner, aka Japanese Breakfast: “The novel pairs the gripping mystery of Raymond Chandler with the existential inquiry of Philip Roth, then arms the two with AR15s and a kosher banquet of edibles.” Incredible.

Read if you’re into fictional cults.

This book was released on January 17. You can get it here.

3. The World And All That It Holds” by Aleksandar Hemon

Rafael Pinto is a Sephardic Jewish pharmacist living in Sarajevo when Archduke Franz Ferdinand is assassinated. Soon, Rafael trades in his mortar and pestle for deadly machinery as he is drafted into the Bosnian army. But gunpowder isn’t the only explosive thing he finds in the trenches — he also finds love with fellow soldier Osman. Together, the pair begin on an adventure in which they survive battlefields, tangle with spies, cross continents and experience sexual intimacy in Ladino.

Read this if you’re into the Great War and great queer romance.

This book was released on January 24. You can get it here.

4. “Black Foam” by Haji Jabir (trans. Sawad Hussain and Marcia Lynx Qualey)

Would you change your identity to find your place in the world? For Dawoud, also known as David, Adal or Dawit, the answer is clearly yes. In “Black Foam,” Dawoud joins the “Falash Mura,” a group of Ethiopian Jews, as they travel to Israel in search of a better life. But, even after reinventing himself, the promised land is not all the Dawoud expected, and he must deal with racism and prejudice. From award-winning Eritrean novelist Haji Jabir, “Black Foam” was first published in 2019 but will soon be available in English!

Read if you’re into tales of diaspora and soul-searching.

This book comes out February 7. You can pre-order it here.

5. Code Name Sapphire” by Pam Jenoff

There can truly never be enough historical fiction about Holocaust resistance — especially when a female character is at the center — and “Code Name Sapphire” is just the latest proof. Inspired by true stories, here’s the description: “1942. Hannah Martel has narrowly escaped Nazi Germany after her fiancé was killed in a pogrom. When her ship bound for America is turned away at port, she has nowhere to go but to her cousin Lily, who lives with her family in Brussels. Fearful for her life, Hannah is desperate to get out of occupied Europe. But with no safe way to leave, she must return to the dangerous underground work she thought she had left behind. Seeking help, Hannah joins the Sapphire Line, a secret resistance network led by a mysterious woman named Micheline and her enigmatic brother Mateo. But when a grave mistake causes Lily’s family to be arrested and slated for deportation to Auschwitz, Hannah finds herself torn between her loyalties.”

Read if you’re into underground resistance and female empowerment.

This book comes out February 7. You can pre-order it here.

6. “The Promise of a Normal Life” by Rebecca Kaiser Gibson

The Passover seder features a story of four children: the wise one, the wicked one, the simple one and the one who doesn’t know how to ask. “The Promise of a Normal Life” is a novel narrated by an unnamed Jewish American girl who falls into the latter category. Our protagonist is simply trying to find her way in the world amidst her more outspoken parents and the 1960s American landscape which often excludes Jews. On the journey, we meet an intriguing cast of characters, per Simon & Schuster: “a glamorous hairdresser on a cruise ship to Israel, loopy tarot-card-reading passengers, and Alice-in-Wonderland lawyers in Haifa. There’s a blue-eyed all-American college boyfriend, a mystified tourist agent in the Lofoten Islands, a handsome eligible rabbi in LA, a righteous and self-absorbed MIT professor, and a clandestine, calculating lover in Boston.”

Read if you’re into Jewish coming-of-age stories.

This book comes out February 7. You can pre-order it here.

7. Death of a Dancing Queen” by Kimberly G. Giarratano

Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot and Lord Peter Wimsey. What do all of these famous literary detectives have in common? None of them are Jewish women. But don’t worry, author Kimberly G. Giarratano has us covered with her character Billie Levine, P.I. In “Death of a Dancing Queen.” Billie takes up her grandfather’s old investigation business in hopes of solving small mysteries and paying the bills. Soon, however, Billie is contracted to find a missing person and becomes entangled with a gang war and an old cold case.

Read if you’re into Jewish mobsters and film noir vibes.

This book comes out February 14. You can pre-order it here.

8. “The Family Morfawitz” by Daniel H. Turtel

If you’ve ever read literature from classical antiquity and thought, “I wish this were more Jewish,” this one is for you. Inspired by Ovid’s Metamorphosis, “The Family Morfawitz” centers an ambitious Jewish family whose matriarch was willing to climb to the top of New York society at any cost. Later, the youngest Morfawitz, Hezekial, becomes the family historian and must decide whether to erase the sins of the parents who abandoned him or get even.

Read if you’re into Greek mythology and familial tension worthy of “Succession.”

This book comes out February 14. You can pre-order it here.

9. My Last Innocent Year” by Daisy Alpert Florin

Trigger warning: sexual assault 

Senior year of college is difficult for everyone. For Isabel Rosen, the main character of “My Last Innocent Year,” it’s much, much harder. Just when Isabel thinks she has found her place at the elite Wilder College, she is raped by one of the only other Jewish students on campus. In spite of this destabilizing event, Isabel thinks she finds a way through: beginning an ill-advised affair with her writing professor. In the end, Isabel realizes that the line between youth and adulthood is not as thick as she once thought.

Read if you’re into conversations of consent and stories of women finding their power.

This book comes out February 14. You can pre-order it here.

10. At the Hour Between Dog and Wolf” by Tara Ison

Marie-Jeanne Chantier is a young French Catholic girl with a secret. She’s not really Catholic, and her name isn’t Marie-Jeanne Chantier at all. In reality, her name is Danielle Marton, and she’s a Jew hiding in the French countryside during the Nazi occupation of France. Sent there in 1941 after her father is shot by Nazis, Danielle is horrified of being discovered and works hard to memorize her fake identity. In the process, however, Danielle becomes brainwashed and begins to fully transform in Marie-Jeanne, a strict Catholic, antisemite and believer in fascism.

Read if you’re into psychological drama and cottagecore.

This book comes out February 21. You can pre-order it here.

11. A Small Sacrifice for an Enormous Happiness” by Jai Chakrabarti

From National Jewish Book award-winning author Jai Chakrabarti, “A Small Sacrifice for an Enormous Happiness” is a short story collection you won’t be able to put down. Per Penguin Random House, “A closeted gay man in 1980s Kolkata seeks to have a child with his lover’s wife. An Indian widow, engaged to a Jewish man, struggles to balance her cultural identity with the rituals and traditions of her newfound family. An American musician travels to see his guru for the final time—and makes a promise he cannot keep. A young woman from an Indian village arrives in Brooklyn to care for the toddler of a biracial couple. And a mystical agent is sent by a mother to solve her son’s domestic problems.”

Read if you’re into bite-sized, cross-cultural fiction.

This book comes out February 21. You can pre-order it here.

12. Künstlers in Paradise” by Cathleen Schine

In 1939, Mamie Künstler arrived in Los Angeles, having escaped from Vienna and the Nazis with her family. Flash forward to 2020, Mamie is now 93 years old, and her grandson Julian’s short visit has turned into an indefinite stay, thanks to COVID. What then transpires is Mamie opening up about early teenage years in Hollywood and adventures with fellow Jewish creatives in exile like Arnold Schoenberg, Christopher Isherwood, Thomas Mann and Greta Garbo. Essentially, it’s giving grandson-grandfather relationship in “The Princess Bride,” but substitute it for grandmother-grandson and tales of Jewish life.

Read if you’re into the Golden Age of Hollywood and bubbes with chutzpah.

This book comes out March 14. You can pre-order it here.

13. “The Woman Beyond the Sea” by Sarit Yishai Levi

If you’re a fan of “The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem,” get ready: Author Sarit Yishai-Levi is back with a new novel. Intertwining the intergenerational stories of three Jewish women, “The Woman Beyond the Sea” focuses on Eliya and her mother Lily as they search for the woman who abandoned Lily. First published in 2019 and now translated into English, Yishai Levi says that the book “is a very personal novel that emerged from longing and pain. But at the same time, it’s a book about forgiveness and acceptance and love that conquers all.”

Read if you’re into sophomore novels as good as the first and, of course, “Beauty Queen of Jerusalem.”

This book comes out March 21. You can pre-order it here.

14. “Between Paradise & Earth: Eve Poems” edited by Nomi Stone and Luke Hankins

Perhaps I’m biased (my Hebrew name is Chava), but I love anything to do with first women Eve. So my thoughts on a new collection of poems exclusively about Eve are: sign me up! “Between Paradise & Earth” features works from poets George Abraham, Hala Alyan, Justice Ameer, Jericho Brown, Nickole Brown, Marianne Chan, Lucille Clifton, Rita Dove, Ansel Elkins, Amy Fleury, Rebecca Morgan Frank, Marie Howe, Danusha Laméris, J. Michael Martinez, Toni Morrison, Ruben Quesada and Barbara Jane Reyes. Together, these writers, “conjure a heterogeneous concert of Eves to reckon with desire, blame, power, gender, the body, race, politics, religion, knowledge, violence, and time. She becomes a door for dreaming of origins, for considering naming and language, for challenging assumptions and structures of power, and for examining the human condition. In these poems, Eve loves, grieves, rages, and proves a perennially relevant figure in our contemporary mythos.” 

Read if you’re into poetry and the OG Jewess.

This book comes out April 3. You can pre-order it here.

15. Unearthed” by Meryl Frank

Franya Winter was a radiant Jewish woman. Having rejected the restrictions of her Hasidic community, she became a star in the Yiddish theater of Vilna. Yet, for Meryl Frank, Franya’s cousin who learned about her from her Aunt Mollie, one mystery remained: how Franya died. After her Aunt Mollie’s death, Meryl searches for answers on Franya’s death and legacy in international archives, chance encounters and finally, in a Yiddish book Mollie forbade her to read.

Read if you’re into memoirs with plenty of twists.

This book comes out April 11. You can pre-order it here.

16. “Kantika” by Elizabeth Graver

“Kantika,” the Ladino word that means “song,” is in fact, just that. Fashioned like a ballad, the reader follows Sephardic Jewish woman Rebecca Cohen whose family must leave 20th century Istanbul for Barcelona. However, Rebecca doesn’t stay in Barcelona long, soon leaving for Cuba and eventually New York for an arranged second marriage. According to Macmillan, “Exploring identity, place and exile, ‘Kantika’ also reveals how the female body—in work, art and love—serves as a site of both suffering and joy.”

Read if you’re into kaleidoscopic portraits and exploring the idea that family is home.

This book comes out April 18. You can pre-order it here.

17. Intimate Strangers: A History of Jews and Catholics in the City of Rome” by Fredric Brandfon

When you’re looking for an alternative to fiction this year, definitely pick up “Intimate Strangers.” Written by former archeologist Frederic Brandfon, this piece of non-fiction explores the history of Jews and Catholics in one of the holiest cities in the world: Rome. Taking the reader on a journey from the first century CE to now, Brandfon examines sites like the Arch of Titus, the Jewish Catacombs and the Roman Ghetto as a means of delineated the close and paradoxical relationship between the two religious groups.

Read if you’re a Cashew (person who grew up Catholic and Jewish) and/or a history lover.

This book comes out May 1. You can pre-order it here.

18. The Marriage Box” by Corie Adjmi

When Casey Cohen’s family decides to return to their Brooklyn Orthodox Syrian Jewish community, the culture shock is real. Having grown up in New Orleans in the 1970s, 16-year-old Casey can’t believe men would pray every day and women would put themselves on display to find a husband. However, Casey still wants to belong in the Syrian Jewish community and thus, after meeting Michael and falling for him, they marry young. But, per the author’s website, “She begins to question her decision when she discovers that Michael doesn’t want her to go to college—he wants her to have a baby instead.”

Read if you’re into bringing old and new worlds together and second wave feminism.

This book comes out May 2. You can pre-order it here.

19. “The Pomegranate Gate” by Ariel Kaplan

This epic fantasy novel tells a story of Jewish expulsion from Spain like you’ve never heard it before. Per Simon & Schuster, “When the Queen of Sefarad orders all the nation’s Jews to leave or convert, Toba Peres and Naftaly Cresques are forced to flee, but an unlucky encounter leaves them both separated from their caravan. Lost in the wilderness, Toba follows an orange-eyed stranger through a mysterious gate in a pomegranate grove, leaving Naftaly behind. With a single step, Toba enters an ancient world that mirrors her own. There, she finds that her fate—and Naftaly’s—are bound to an ancient conflict threatening to destroy both realms.”

Read if you’re into Sephardic tales and magical pomegranates.

This book comes out June 22. You can pre-order it here.

20. All Night Pharmacy” by Ruth Madievsky 

What do you do when your adventurous older sister disappears after a night of drinking and drugs? For the unnamed narrator of “All-Night Pharmacy,” the answer is to continue in the life they built together. The narrator soon gets a job at an ER for the purpose of stealing and selling pills. Here, she meets a Jewish refugee from the former Soviet Union named Sasha, who claims to be her spiritual guide. Throughout their complicated relationship and trying to find herself, our narrator must decide whether to look for her sister too.

Read this if you’re into astrology and drug-fueled literature.

This book comes out July 11. You can pre-order it here.

21. The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store” by James McBride

From 2013 National Book Award winner James McBride, “The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store” is all about “how much the people who live on the margins of white, Christian America struggle and what they must do to survive,” per Penguin Random House. Set in Chicken Hill, a community in Pottstown, Pennsylvania where Jewish immigrants and African Americans struggle side-by-side, the book tells the story of Chona and Moshe, a Jewish couple, and Nate Timblin, a leader in the Black community of Chicken Hill, and their plan to protect a deaf boy from being institutionalized by the state.

Read if you’re into criticizing white, Christian hegemony.

This book comes out August 8. You can pre-order it here.

22. Marry Me by Midnight” by Felicia Grossman

“Marry Me by Midnight” is a novel whose plot is basically if Cinderella and “The Prince Diaries 2: A Royal Engagement” had a very Jewish baby. And I’m absolutely not complaining. Per Forever, “London, 1832: Isabelle Lira may be in distress, but she’s no damsel. Since her father’s death, his former partners have sought to oust her from their joint equity business. Her only choice is to marry—and fast—to a powerful ally outside the respected Berab family’s sphere of influence. Only finding the right spouse will require casting a wide net. So she’ll host a series of festivals, to which every eligible Jewish man is invited. Once, Aaron Ellenberg longed to have a family of his own. But as the synagogue custodian, he is too poor for wishes and not foolish enough for dreams. Until the bold, beautiful Isabelle Lira presents him with an irresistible offer . . . if he ensures her favored suitors have no hidden loyalties to the Berabs, she will provide him with money for a new life. Yet the transaction provides surprising temptation, as Aaron and Isabelle find caring and passion in the last person they each expected.”

Read if you’re into gooey love stories.

This book comes out August 8. You can pre-order it here.

23. Sword Catcher” by Cassandra Clare

Mixing fantasy with notes of Jewish myth and folklore, “Sword Catcher” is a forthcoming novel from Cassandra Clare, Jewish author of “The Mortal Instruments” series. The novel centers an orphan named Kellian who, at the age of 8, is chosen to be sword-catcher for Conor Aurelian, Prince of Castellane and heir to its throne. (Essentially, this means that Kel is Conor’s body double.) Eleven years later, Kel is becoming weary of his role when he catches an assassin’s blade meant for the Prince. In his recovery, he meets a magical physician named Lin and sets into motion events that could change everything. Read if you’re into fantasy worlds and LARPing

This book comes out October 10. You can pre-order it here.

Evelyn Frick

Evelyn Frick (she/they) is a writer and associate editor at Hey Alma. She graduated from Vassar College in 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. In her spare time, she's a comedian and contributor for Reductress and The Onion.

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