Publication Date: 26/01/2023 ISBN: 9781800815377 Category:

One Hundred Saturdays

Michael Frank, Maira Kalman

Publisher: Profile Books Ltd
Publication Date: 26/01/2023 ISBN: 9781800815377 Category:


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‘Beautiful, sober and affecting – a testament to remembrance and friendship’ – DALIA SOFER

‘A momentous historic retrieval and work of literary art’ – PHILLIP LOPATE

Nearly a century of life behind her, Stella Levi had never shared the full details of her past with anyone. That is until she met Michael Frank, and asked him to help her polish a talk she was to give about life in the Juderia of Rhodes. Neither of them could know that this was the first of one hundred Saturdays that they would spend in each other’s company.

Courageous and sharp, elegant and sly, Stella is a formidable modern Scheherazade whose Saturday instalments give a window into the vibrant, vanished world of the Jews of Rhodes. She unspools for the first time the long threads of her history – from the sun-soaked shores of her childhood, to the fifteen harrowing months she spent in camps scattered throughout Europe, and finally to the United States and New York as one of only 150 Jews from Rhodes to survive.

Featuring colour illustrations based on Stella’s family photographs, One Hundred Saturdays is an unusual and extraordinary memoir. It is a testament to the soul-saving power of relationships; to memories revisited; to resilience. It’s not only a vital slice of history that has largely been ignored, but a story of the possibility of an ever-evolving self, even after confronting Hell.

Publisher Review

Never underestimate the power of friendship at any stage in life. That's one of the lessons from Michael Frank's beautiful portrait of the wise and charming nonagenarian, Stella Levi, one of the last remaining Holocaust survivors from the vanished Sephardic community of the Juderia on the Greek island of Rhodes. In relaying her life story, Mr. Frank has pulled off something special: One Hundred Saturdays is a sobering yet heartening book about how friendship, remembrance, and being heard can help assuage profound dislocation and loss. It is also a reminder that the ability to listen thoughtfully is a rare and significant gift. -- Heller McAlpin * The Wall Street Journal * Gifted... Told from the author's point of view over the course of 100 meetings, each with its own short chapter, this story is a unique glimpse at a forgotten history that we all must learn. * Good Morning America (Most Anticipated September 2022) * This intimate story of one remarkable woman is also the history of a people. One Hundred Saturdays is an important book, brilliantly told and illustrated, and profoundly moving. -- Hilma Wolitzer, author of Today a Woman Went Mad in the Supermarket A stunning achievement-both as a momentous historic retrieval and a work of literary art. I was gripped throughout by this thoughtful, psychologically rich conversation. -- Phillip Lopate, film critic and editor of The Art of the Personal Essay Through the polyphonic story of Stella Levi, a woman severed from her origin but deeply connected to it through memory, Michael Frank conjures up not only the eradication of the Jewish community in Rhodes, but also what preceded it: the life. His book-beautiful, sober, and affecting-is a testament to remembrance and friendship. -- Dalia Sofer, author of The Septembers of Shiraz In One Hundred Saturdays Michael Frank entices readers to fall in love with Jewish Rhodes and its perspicacious bard, Stella Levi, a nonagenarian for whom he, too, seems to have fallen in the course of one hundred Saturdays of intimate, evocative, sometimes painful conversation. Maira Kalman's dreamy illustrations are the perfect companion to this moving book. -- Sarah Abrevaya Stein, author of Family Papers Incandescent... Distilled through Frank's intelligent prose and enlivened with eye-catching illustrations from [Maira] Kalman, Levi's recollections bring to vivid life the unique culture of the Juderia, its complicated colonial history, and her colorful, multilingual family as she describes how, under Italian Fascist rule in the 1920s and '30s, all traces of Judaism vanished from the public eye... Frank's narrative shines with an ebullience, thanks to the 'unusually rich, textured, and evolving' life of his utterly enchanting muse. The result provides an essential, humanist look into a dark chapter of 20th-century history. * Publishers Weekly * Michael Frank has beautifully preserved the lost world of the Jews of Rhodes. He manages to give us-deftly and with great economy-both Stella's moving personal story and a vivid sense of the society that shaped her: a unique blend of Judeo-Spanish, Italian, French, Turkish, and Greek languages and cultures, an insular and yet cosmopolitan world that the Nazis effectively extinguished. -- Alexander Stille, author of Excellent Cadavers: the Mafia and the Death of the First Italian Republic Stella Levi, now in her late nineties, is a reluctant Scheherazade. Michael Frank, her interlocutor, has a storyteller's genius for listening. Theirs is a bond that transcends generations, languages, and lived experience. Together they have collaborated on a riveting portrait of a singular young woman who grew up in the old Jewish quarter of Rhodes, dreamed of a vibrant life in Europe, suffered deportation to a series of Nazi death camps, lost her family and her bearings, and made it to the other side. But Scheherazade told stories to survive. Stella Levi's story illuminates the mysteries of survival. -- Judith Thurman, author of Cleopatra's Nose Like his subject, Stella Levi, Michael Frank is a master storyteller. He knows how to dole out information in a way that is nothing short of brilliant, and in One Hundred Saturdays he even manages to infuse the ghostly past with an air of lively, sympathetic suspense. -- Wendy Lesser, author of Why I Read A poignant and absolutely necessary addition to the canon of Holocaust literature. Through Michael's questions, which showcase trust and friendship that grows between interviewer and interviewee, and gorgeous illustrations from artist Maira Kalman, One Hundred Saturdays paints remarkable dual portraits. The first is of a vibrant Sephardic community which was decimated by the Nazis and is still often omitted from Holocaust histories. And the second is, of course, of Stella Levi and the chapters of her life: child, prisoner, survivor, wanderer, wife and mother and, now, storyteller. * Hey Alma * Reading [One Hundred Saturdays] is like watching an artist piece together a mosaic. A splash of blue sea here. A mother's song over there. The smell of Purim pastries. The flash of first love... Maira Kalman's illustrations, heavily influenced by Matisse with their deceptive simplicity, rich colors and delicate textures, are perfect complements to Levi's story, portraying vanished scenes from life on Rhodes before the Holocaust. Together with the text of Frank's beautiful book, they create a sensitive portrait of an extraordinary woman. * BookPage * One Hundred Saturdays is, quite simply, essential reading. * BookTrib. * Praise for The Mighty Franks -- : A marvelous, clear-eyed memoir ... almost thriller-like ... beautifully written * Wall Street Journal * It was so good that I had to read it twice * The New Statesman * Frank is a master of self-reflection, under the bowl of blue sky and in those closeted canyons. He says nothing in an ordinary way; everything has a dreamlike smoothness, born out of his extended act of retrieval and the remembered violence of emotion and inconstancy ... I doubt you'll read a better memoir this year * Guardian * Witty, moving ... beautifully written and timely * The Times Literary Supplement * [Michael Frank] seems to have had an unearthly quality of perspective ... There is a lastingly sane quality to his riveting memoir that's reminiscent of To Kill a Mockingbird ... an extraordinary tale * Daily Telegraph * A narrative that could unfold only in a place where fantasy and reality blur with treacherous ease ... The author connects the dots subtly between his relatives' capacity for self-invention and their employment in the dream factory ... [A] probing and radiantly polished account * The New York Times *

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