Saturday, May 18, 2019

Sex and tango in Buenos Aires in the late 1800s


THE THIRD DAUGHTER, a new novel

In my new novel I dared enter an arena never explored before....             
              
It took enormous courage for me to write THE THIRD DAUGHTER and to expose a buried, tragic chapter in history in which estimated 200,000 women were deceptively lured from Eastern Europe into prostitution in South America during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The whispers of millions of girls and women ensnared into sexual slavery grew into loud cries in my head until I had to give them a voice. It took research, but also maturity, compassion and skill to follow the thread that turned THE THIRD DAUGHTER into a story of courage in the face of danger and hope in the face of despair.

The novel will be released on September 3rd by HarperCollins. (It is available for pre-order wherever books are sold.)


Summary of THE THIRD DAUGHTER:   
       
The turn of the 20th century finds fourteen-year-old Batya in the Russian countryside, fleeing with her family from endless Jewish massacres. Desperate, her father leaps at the opportunity to marry Batya to a worldly, wealthy stranger who can guarantee his daughter an easy life and passage to America. Feeling like a princess in a fairy tale, Batya leaves her old life behind as she is whisked away to a new world. But soon she discovers that she’s entered a waking nightmare. Her new “husband” does indeed bring her to America: Buenos Aires, a vibrant, growing city in which prostitution is not only legal but deeply embedded in the culture. And now Batya is one of thousands of women tricked and sold into a brothel.

As the years pass, Batya forms deep bonds with her “sisters” in the house as well as some men who are both kind and cruel. Through it all, she holds onto one dream: to bring her family to America where they will be safe from the anti-Semitism that plagues Russia. Just as Batya is becoming a known tango dancer, she gets an unexpected but dangerous opportunity—to help bring down the criminal network that has enslaved so many young women yet has been instrumental in developing Buenos Aires into a major metropolis.


This shameful chapter in history is true!   
              

For 70 years, a legal union of traffickers headquartered in Buenos Aires operated with impunity. Zwi Migdal’s members--well-dressed men, speaking Yiddish and flaunting their success--returned to visit their native Eastern European communities on recruitment expeditions. They offered marriages and jobs in the New World, but instead kidnapped these girls and women and forced them into prostitution.

Protected by the Argentine government's laws (as the state budget relied on taxing the brothels,) Zwi Migdal reported at the turn of the 20th century profits of $50 million a year. In some years they employed up to 30,000 women all across South America, (and reaching New York's Lower East Side.)


The inspiration....       

While there is plenty of English-language material about Zwi Migdal (and a lot more in Spanish,) there is hardly any work of fiction since, in 1909, the Yiddish storyteller Sholem Aleichem published a short story, THE MAN FROM BUENOS AIRES. (You may read its translation on my website.)

Interestingly, this story about a shady businessman who brags about his riches but never reveals the nature of his affairs, appeared in the same story collection as the stories about Tevye the dairyman and his daughters, most known in its theatrical adaptation to FIDDLER ON THE ROOF.

My imagination was fired at the question of what would have happened if, after fleeing a pogrom, Tevye’s unmarried daughter met that shady man from Buenos Aires?


Activism          
              
In the coming months, before the novel's release, I will team up with anti-trafficking organizations, local, domestic and international. As I had done with my previous social-issue-centered novels, I will use THE THIRD DAUGHTER as a platform for speaking opportunities and calls for action.

In my book tour, I will inform audiences what they can do about the evil of human slavery in their own backyard. If your organization sponsors a fund-raiser, a literary event, or any form of public stage from which to educate and inspire, I would welcome your invitation. Please contact my event coordinator, Lisa Bernard, at MecoxHudson@gmail.com, or call her at  (203)293-4741 .

I am looking forward to visiting your community.


Read more on my website....              
My website has been updated to include material about THE THIRD DAUGHTER:

* And the above mentioned Sholem Aleichem's story 


 And finally.... 
              
I can't end this blog without mentioning one more inspiration for THE THIRD DAUGHTER--my late mother's painting. My mother, Reviva Yoffe, was a renowned Israeli artist, and this painting, which she had named "The Tango Dancers," revealed to me something profound about these two characters' relationship. When I struggled with doubts as to whether even tackle the subject of bondage, I found encouragement from my late mother....

Thank you for your interest and support. I am looking forward to reconnecting with you in the coming months. Please email me your questions and thoughts.

Talia Carner


  
P.S. Please pre-order THE THIRD DAUGHTER now--in print, digital or audio--and help get the buzz going.




Monday, September 10, 2018

A Politically Incorrect Feminist



 A review of Phyllis Chesler's new book, A Politically Incorrect Feminist

No political/social movement can be launched nor hurled forward by the faint-of-hearts. The second wave feminism required no less gumption and fierceness than the first wave. The first-wave feminism—that of the suffragists who won for women the rights to vote and own property—surged with the second wave, which started in the 1960’s and gained momentum in the 1970’s. It sought to broaden women’s rights to equality in family, sexuality and employment and sounded the battle cry for fights in areas unique to women such as reproductive rights, domestic violence, marital rape, paid maternity leave, sexual harassment, affordable child care, and changes in divorce and custody laws.

Paradoxically, civil rights, students’ rights and labor unions often failed to include women within their leadership ranks, nor did they give credence to women’s issues in either their ideologies or policies until feminists fought them internally to be heard and included.

While in this excellent book Phyllis Chesler claims to not have written the history of second wave feminism, she nevertheless does so through her own eyes and personal experiences that were deeply intertwined with the fabric of the movement. She recounts her involvement with almost every aspect of this gut-wrenching years-long struggle, and most importantly, offers an intimate introduction of the many players—their strengths and weaknesses, idiosyncrasies and yes, madness. The battles that raged on the road to women’s liberation were not only against the male hierarchy and dominance of political and social views that held women as childish, given to hormonal fluctuations, and incapable of thinking straight, but also internally. The fire in the belly that fueled feminists’ fervor and made them effective in ultimately achieving many of the movement’s goals burned also in the intensity of their diverse worldviews that often targeted other women. Backstabbing, public shaming, envy and demands for conformity crippled many talented women leaders. Many fell by the wayside, slunk away to lick the wounds inflicted not by their powerful male opponents and their centuries-old beliefs, but rather by their colleagues and fellow Amazonians—often close friends—right inside the movement and in the many organizations that sprouted within it.

Luckily, Phyllis Chesler is one who remained standing through it all, albeit not unscathed. Her personal achievements as a psychologist who confronted the entire industry and forced it to change its perceptions and treatment of women patients is documented not only in this book, but in the astounding success of her ground-breaking book, Women and Madness (a book that was followed by over a dozen other best-sellers, each stepping into arenas no one had ever dared enter before.) Time and again, Chesler paid a personal price when she became the target of envy by those who did not wish to see stars rising within the feminist movement, by those who held the paradoxical idea that for true equality women should not publish over their own bylines (an unimagined demand to be made from male writers,) or by early Lesbians who discredited heterosexual women who chose to marry and become mothers as Chesler did. The reasons for rancor could be many—or any—as Chesler analyzed in her book Women’s Inhumanity to Women, and as I experienced years later in a mini version when I traveled for three weeks with a group of fifty women to the 1995 International Women’s Conference in Beijing: Environmentalists against those who brought plastic forks; blue-collar working women against executives; Lesbians against heterosexuals; non-Jews against Jews; women of color against Caucasians; West Coast women against “Yankees”; health-conscious against coffee-drinkers….

Yes, reading the book reveals that indeed, the movement was created by “bitches, lunatics, prodigies and warriors,” as the subtitle describes. Yet, overall, they were Wonder Women, because they lurched our society forward into the changes of the late 20th century and early 21st century—and to what we are now experiencing as the “third-wave feminism.”

I was younger, yet growing up across the ocean I was unaware of any of these developments when I cultivated my own brand of feminist ideas—and was labeled by some friends “a castrating female.” Later, in New York, when I was drawn into a vicious custody battle, the judge listened to the argument that I should not be allowed to raise my two baby daughters because I had attended a conscious-raising seminar, and as my former marriage counselor—a renowned psychologist—testified against me because I was “a feminist.” At the same time, the judge refused to put into evidence my lawyer’s presentation of the father’s passport proving that he traveled two to three weeks each month. Reading Phyllis Chesler’s book I recalled how, a new immigrant to the USA, I had sought out someone who could explain this. I checked with the local university, where I was studying for my masters’ degree, but in those days of pre- “Women Studies,” which Professor Chesler helped introduce, I couldn’t even articulate what kind of an expert I was looking for. Phyllis Chesler, a psychotherapist and a warrior, and the author of Mothers on Trial: The Battle for Children and Custody, would have been perfect.

The reluctance of women to acknowledge greatness and give credit to feminists who have paved the way for us continues. Several years ago I proposed to the Women National Book Association to honor Phyllis Chesler, a prolific author of eighteen books that changed the landscape of our society and helped shape for the better the lives of millions of women, to receive the Association’s yearly award. Her candidacy was rejected because she was “too controversial.” Controversial because, as she describes in A Politically Incorrect Feminist she demands that American feminists take a stand against the subjugation and brutality that is the lot of hundreds of million women in Muslim countries. Controversial because her unique research of “honor killing” in Western countries of daughters of Muslim families that shame their families by assimilating into Western culture or dare refuse arranged marriages is perceived as politically incorrect against Islam.

Yes, “the personal is political,” and this book that charts the bravery and valor of so many amazing women has inspired me anew to fight for women’s rights and dignity both at home and abroad.





Saturday, March 31, 2018

Public Thoughts To Be Read At The Passover Table

By Talia Carner


This Passover, as we celebrate our ancestors’ freedom from slavery, we reconnect through our most important holiday with our centuries-long traditions. It is incumbent upon us to contemplate the broader concept of freedom and what it means to us as individuals, as members of our immediate communities, and as members of the community of Jews across the globe.

Throughout history, Passover has also been a time of increased blood libels and pogroms against Jews. While Jews celebrated freedom and showed benevolence toward fellow humans, they were reminded how hated they were—hatred so strong that it “justified” killing them by the dozens, thousands, and millions. In these days, as a new wave of anti-Semitism is sweeping over the globe, gathering tsunami-like power, it lands right in Manhattan's UN building. The global Jew-hate fest from Venezuela to Spain—and renewed in Poland—has  metastasized into leading universities, mainstream media, civic organizations, and even Western governments. The tale of the Haggadah we read at the Seder stands to remind us that hate comes knocking on our door first with words, then with economic and academic boycotts, then with biased UN resolutions, and, as in the past, it may end with guns, bombs and incinerators.

Passover also marks spring in our ancient agrarian society, a beginning of a cycle of life, with the blooming of trees and the planting of vegetables and flowers. Spring’s fresh start and the tradition of inviting others to share our bounty at the Passover table reminds us of Israel’s extraordinary achievements in agriculture and science—efficiencies, discoveries and inventions she has shared for decades with over 120 countries to help nourish children, improve global food production, and wipe out starvation.

While these past seventy years Israelis—both civilians and soldiers—have given each Jew everywhere reasons to walk tall and proud, their existential threat from Iran is real.

“Every Jew should consider himself as if he was freed from slavery,” says the Haggadah we read tonight. In today’s climate we should add that “Every Jew should consider himself as if he’s just escaped a terrorist bomb.” There but for the grace of God and twist of history, we would not have been spared the wrath and bombs of Palestinians or extreme Muslim murderers taking shelter in our sacred freedom. Let’s give our prayers and charity to the families who have suffered unimaginable, senseless losses. And as we do, let us search within ourselves whether we have done all we could for them and for the Israeli soldiers who take the first bullet for us.

And while we’re at it, let’s remember our American soldiers on the forefront in the desserts of Iraq and Afghanistan—and the thousands of families who would never get to put their arms around them upon their return.

The tradition of Passover also calls us to invite to the Seder table any Jew who does not have one. Let’s invite—at least in our thoughts—all our Jewish brethren in countries that do not offer the freedom and protection that the USA guarantees us. For them, we can raise our collective voice with indignation and outrage and use our collective power to fight tyranny and fanaticism that calls for our—and their—demise.

Israel’s president Shimon Peres once said that even Ben-Gurion had not dreamed big enough. Let us dream big tonight—stretch our dream to encompass all the vast possibilities, and let us dream tonight of a world of peace.

Let us bless all the good things God has given us so far, and celebrate our resilience and our heritage of strong Jewish values that we have shared with the world over for centuries. And let's allow that dream bring joy to our hearts and to our Passover table.

Amen.

 # # # 

Author Talia Carner's novels are heart-wrenching suspense dealing with social issues. Please read the first chapter of each on her website at www.TaliaCarner.com .

Monday, March 19, 2018

One People--Passover Surprise Guests


  
            It’s breakfast at Club Med in Mexico. I select a white-chocolate bread, a croissant, and a slice of banana cake for the last time; as of tomorrow, my family and I must stretch my box of matzos for the remaining four days of our stay. Surrounded by a merry crowd in bathing suits and scant coverings—standard daytime apparel here—my heart is heavy. This evening, instead of a Passover Seder at a table laden with fine china, polished silver, and sparkling crystal, I must improvise a Seder on the beach. What kind of message am I giving my children when opting to trump our most important holiday by a resort vacation?
            I approach the Chef-de-Village and ask for a secluded spot where my family and another Jewish couple we’ve met here could conduct a pre-sunset ceremony. He points to a beautiful thatched-roof area over a dance floor, facing the sea. “Anything else I can do?” he asks.
            “A bottle of sweet red wine, please?” Besides the box of matzos and a silver kiddush cup, I packed a dozen Hagadahs and baby-blue yarmulkes stamped with the date of our youngest daughter’s bat-mitzvah. I write down my recipe for charoset, a chopped mix of peeled apples, walnuts, pecans and dates, all flavored with cinnamon, honey and red wine.
            Moments later, I am surprised to hear him over the PA announcing that all who wish to participate in a Seder, should meet at five o’clock at the designated area.
            I cringe and glance around at the crowd, busy picking from mounds of fried bacon and pork sausages. Is someone cracking a comment about the invasion of the Hebs? No one seems to pay attention, and I decide that throughout history, Jews in far more dire conditions managed to celebrate Passover. So will my family, down to the lengthy reading of the Hagadah, the yearly retelling of the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt.
            At lunch, a sous-chef presents me with an industrial-size baking tray filled with charoset. Imagining that most of this huge quantity will be baked in tomorrow’s pies, I dip a spoon into the mix. The familiar taste of Passover festivity is already inside me. “May I also have a plate with a hard-boiled egg, a lamb bone, horseradish, and sprigs of parsley?” I ask. “And a cup of salt water?”

            The sun is still high when I drag my family off the beach to shower and dress in what passes in Club Med for evening attire—shorts and Polo shirts for men; white slacks or gauzy dresses for women.
            At five o’clock we arrive at the dance platform, carrying my Passover paraphernalia. To my annoyance someone must have double-booked the place, as dozens of his guests, dressed for a pre-dinner party are hanging about. “Now we must go look for another quiet spot,” I mutter, and go search for the sous-chef to locate my tray of charoset and Passover plate.
            In a cluster of people, I spot the couple we have invited and wave.
            As they wave back, some guests turn toward me, smiling. Only then it hits me: All these people are here for my little Seder!
            As my husband counts them—a hundred and forty—more bottles of wine and crates of glassware are brought from the kitchen. We place the Seder plate in the center of a table covered with a white tablecloth and dedicate my kiddush cup for Elijah. We break my matzos into the smallest pieces, and ladle charoset onto serving plates.
            Then we distribute the twelve Hagadahs—the story of Passover told in biblical Hebrew. I watch as Jews from South American countries speaking Spanish and Portuguese, Jews from France and Austria and Israel, speaking French, German and Hebrew, and Jews from North America, Australia and Great Britain speaking English, all squeeze close around their respective single Hagadah. A man from Venezuela assumes the role of the Seder leader—luckily his pronunciation is the Sephardi version, that of spoken Hebrew, not the archaic Ashkenazi version of most USA synagogues—and we begin taking turns reading aloud, with the congregants responding when called to do so. The Sepharadis chant their melodious renditions of some of the hymns, and the Ashkenazis respond with their musical versions. Regardless of our home language, we all utter the same ancient Hebrew words, recite the same sages’ arguments, and sing the same prayers. Together, we retell the narrative of liberation from slavery and urge our children to pass it on to theirs, so they, too, will forever appreciate freedom.
            I examine the men’s heads covered with baseball caps, dinner napkins, and my dozen yarmulkes in baby-blue like the undulating sea beyond. For one hour, strangers to one another, we are connected by one culture and unite through the ancient language of our ancestors in a tradition that transcends all geo-political barriers, that has stood up to centuries of persecutions, pogroms, and repeated attempts at our annihilation. “Next year in Jerusalem,” we chant together, expressing our shared vision of the place that for two-thousand years has anchored Jewish faith. For one hour we reassert to ourselves that we are one people. My people.

# # #
Author Talia Carner’s most recent novel, HOTEL MOSCOW, (HarperCollins 2015,) tells the story of an American daughter of Holocaust survivors who travels to Russia shortly after the fall of communism, encounters anti-Semitism, and must come to terms with her parents’ legacy.


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Cuba: Thoughts and impressions of my visit


In front of a sculpture of a naked woman riding a rooster,
while holding a fork and wearing high heels--the Cuban ideal woman....
As I’ve just returned from a trip to Cuba, and given the myriad questions I am facing, I am putting in writing my fresh, unadulterated thoughts:

I traveled with the Authors’ Guild for one week filled with three to five lectures and presentations each day. The talks were by authors, publishers, musicians, visual artists and university professors of literature, women’s studies, urban planning and political science. We stayed in Havana for five out of the seven nights, and traveled the three-and a half-hour drive to Trinidad, a small town, where we stayed at people’s homes. (As a form of enterprise, many add a room or two in their homes, complete with private bathrooms.)

In the first presentation, a professor of political science was clearly on the side of the government. While he acknowledged many of the the country’s problems, he attributed them to the US embargo and not to the government’s failure over decades to help its people and economy thrive. In fact, while he acknowledged that they must search for a new model, capitalism wasn’t an option because it created a “social injustice.”

In the coming days it became clear that the greatest social injustice, in fact, lies right at the feet of Cuba’s double currency. After the revolution of 1959-1960—a process that lasted close to three years, not an overnight coup—Cuba aligned itself with the Soviet Union and its economy. It built an economy that was based on the Russian ruble, but even more upon bartering of goods with the Soviet Union. In the barter system, the ever-changing non-monetary values had nothing to do with a sound fiscal policy. Unfortunately, with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Cuban economy found itself floundering and gasping for air. Suddenly, the only steady source of income came from remittances—money sent by expats living in Florida to their families in Cuba. Until today, remittances are by far the greatest source of the Cuban economy.
Old American cars in Havana are a
trademark of the city

However, since the remittances are in dollars, the CUC—the Cuban conversion of a dollar—is worth 27 times the value of the “national peso,” called CUP. Thus, a two-system was established, existing side by side. Cubans get paid by CUP, thus making 27 times less than those receiving remittances or are employed in the tourist industry where they are paid in CUCs. Tourists can only use CUCs, while Cuban state workers receive their wages in national pesos, and are only permitted to use in order to purchase basic necessities—except that it is insufficient and allows no small treats. (An ice-cream cone costing $2.50 is out of reach for someone earning $50 a month.)

If there was ever glaring social injustice that makes university professors starve while hotel bellmen thrive, this is it. In fact, as a result of this huge gap in income, scientists, physicians, academicians and trained professionals have left their professions in drove to become tour guides, hotel clerks and concierges. Our tour guide, Christopher, had studied nuclear physics when he switched to major in languages so he could work with tourists. Our group of twenty-five  tipped him for the week at least $50 per person, totaling an estimated $1,250 in a country where a government employee earns $50 a month. (Our bus driver received half of this sum, which is still huge.) Time and again we heard how a bar tender makes in one evening what a university professor or a doctor makes in one month.

Housing: One of the first steps of the revolution was to nationalize all private properties, starting with apartment houses and private mansions. Whoever lived in an apartment in 1959 became its owner. And the servants, gardeners and chauffeurs became the instant owners of the mansions where they had served the masters. However, the government kept the ownership of each building as a whole as well as the land on which they stand. As a result, while an apartment dweller owns his apartment, he does not own a share in the common areas—the surface of the building, corridors, stairwells, or garbage area. Maintaining them has been the government's responsibility. Needless to say, with an impoverished economy, buildings fell into complete and utter neglect. The idea of giving mansions to the former service staff also failed to take into account that these people lacked the means to maintain such structures.

A former mansion, one of thousands that have
fallen to great disrepair before collapsing.

The urban decay of Havana is heart breaking, as the many buildings that still carry signs of past glory are decaying—not just peeling plaster and dark mould spreading, but missing windows, broken terraces and gaping rooms whose walls have crumbled. In places, one sees a feeble attempt of tenants to salvage their place by constructing crude propping of floors, but these pathetic attempts often fail: On the average, three buildings collapse each day—one thousand a year—and that number will escalate as more buildings give in to the passage of time. On each street one can see buildings that look like photos of a bombed-city.

The brain drain of young professionals and educated people seeking economic opportunities abroad has resulted in a population whose 30% are over the age of 60. That number is expected to grow to 40% in the coming decade. From a housing point-of-view, it means that older people are unable to climb stairs to high floors in buildings that never had elevators, nor do they have the resources to find suitable housing when their buildings give in to the elements. The isolation of the aging is yet another social injustice that is sure to increase.

Education: In the midst of this misery, free education is still a priority for the Cuban government, and it covers not only K to 12th grade, but goes all the way through graduate degrees for whoever wishes to do so. Cuba boasts 51 universities—a large number for a population of 11.5 million habitants. In addition, the education system favors specialized training in the arts, and children as young as five years old that show promise are directed to schools of music, dance and circus arts. Visual arts are taught throughout the school years because the country has great appreciation for art, and at age eighteen, those who wish, may attend dedicated art academies. Furthermore, students who show interest in music, dance, writing and art but not enough to attend the specialized schools, are offered all these after-school classes at no charge.

As a result of the high level of education, Cuba’s second largest industry is the “exporting of brain,” that is academicians and scientists who travel to other South- and Central-American countries to work or teach. Unlike the expats who’ve left for the USA and Europe never to return, these professionals come back home to Cuba after earning some decent income. Many repeat such assignments abroad every few years.

Cuba’s third industry is pharmaceutical, medical research and biotechnology. The country prides itself in developing and manufacturing a range of specific medications. (It was left unclear to us how their testing is done and what are the standards applied, especially since, with the thawing of the commercial and economic embargo toward the end of the Obama’s Administration, talks of US drug companies medical testing in Cuba became relevant.)

Agriculture, which could have been a strong industry in this fertile land, is unfortunately sorely neglected. The offering of vegetables and fruit during our stay, even at good restaurants, was relatively poor—string beans were only canned. No cauliflower, carrots, asparagus or broccoli. A visit to several food stores showed no basic staples such as peanuts or even dried fruit. Mango, pineapple and guava are available—but no apples, pears or grapes, and even bananas are in short supply. Driving through the center of the country from Havana to Trinidad we saw sugar cane fields, but no corn or wheat. There is no cattle herding, and therefore meat is imported. In Trinidad, located half-an hour from the sea, no fish was available during our two-day stay. Rice, beans and potatoes seem to be the major food staple.
Courtyard of  a home in Trinidad, Cuba,
that rents out rooms to tourists.

Due to the economic struggle of all Cubans, they all must resort to other creative means of survival. They call it “La Lucha,” a word that translates to “struggle.” Each person must find a way for his or hers “Lucha” in the form of side entrepreneurial service or manufacturing. Perhaps more than being deprived of political freedom, Cubans lose dignity due to their ongoing economic hardship that forces them to desert their natural tendencies and interests (e.g. science,) in order to haul tourists’ suitcases.

Interestingly, in spite of shortages and poverty, crime rate is very low. Havana is safe at all hours of the day and night, as are tourists’ possessions. The Cuban people are pleasant and seem at ease both among themselves and with foreigners. Some of my fellow passengers attributed it to the power of Cuban music, but it seemed to me that music could only serve as a veneer, not a panacea for a lifetime of frustration, deprivation and indignity.

USA policy: In my research for a one of my novels, China Doll, I learned that our government employs either one of two approaches toward unfriendly nations: Engagement and Containment. Engagement maintains that exchanging knowledge, culture and business practices demonstrates how capitalism works while instilling Western values when it comes to human rights. (e.g., in China, factory supervisors use beating as a disciplinary tool that is, of course, forbidden in US-owned factories there.) Containment holds that a country such as China that calls itself “The Sleeping Dragon” is dangerous and its ambitions for expansions should be carefully watched. (Cutting corners, the unscrupulous China has been buying R&D from the West, and what it can’t buy it steals.) China has been controlling the nations of the Pacific Rim to the point that these countries must adhere to China’s interests when making their decisions.

This view of US policy has helped me understand the decades-long Containment policy we’ve held, broken in 2015 with Obama’s visit to Cuba and his declaration that we were neighbors. Unfortunately, this start of a policy of Engagement also supports the current government, one that oppresses its people, that controls the press, and stifles criticism even if it comes in the form of art it so reveres. With the upcoming elections in early 2018, rather than maintaining a feeling of “kumbaya,” which only strengthens the current one-party, autocratic government, and makes it more acceptable to its people, the US clamps down on such support.

This is where I found the USA new guidelines on travel to Cuba telling: The commercial ban on Cuba is translated into merely restrictions on commerce with the Cuban government. In fact, our administration encourages working with individual Cubans who are entrepreneurs, as it wishes to strengthen and support people. Therefore, journalistic activity, professional research, educational and religious activities, public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic competitions, humanitarian projects and activities of private foundations or are permitted. All family members wishing to visit their relatives in Cuba are permitted to do so.

There are a few candidates for the position of President. If in the past the single most important credential was that the candidate had been part of the 1959 revolution, these people are too old or gone. Yet, it is unclear what the new wave of candidates offers, nor do they make their respective visions for the future of Cuba public. Such campaigning is not called for in this system. Instead, each candidate is listed with his main points of past achievements, but none offers a platform of his plans for the future of Cuba. Even if all of them are members of the single ruling party, it is conceivable that they may hold different opinions and dreams. There’s a talk about a shoe-in of the current vice-president. Only the future will reveal whether he will have the courage to move on to an open-market economy and democracy. The Cuban people are certainly ready.
In front of Hemingway's home, holding
my Toastmasters magazine.





Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Spring is here!


I once heard Chuck Adams, a Simon & Schuster veteran editor, say about a good book: “It’s like in sex. If you are a good lover, you have a good time, but your partner has a better time.” As you can see in my photo, I am having a great time….

Spring has sprung, and with it a sense of renewal as my most recent novel, HOTEL MOSCOW, continues to make waves. The novel has received two great awards, the first, from USA Book News in the multicultural category. The second, The Book Excellence Award in the THRILLER category now has this digital seal!

No wonder!  The “thriller” part is what’s happening in Russia; it’s in the news often, and readers’ minds are stimulated when learning from HOTEL MOSCOW how the culture is still seeped in the Soviet mentality that makes the 25-year transition from communism so painful….


In the meantime, as I continue my public speaking, I’ve been greatly helped by my Toastmasters’ clubs, where I keep receiving these precious ribbons. Most importantly, Toastmasters has given me a community wherever I go. (Anyone who is in the public eye or needs to speak on the job should visit the local Toastmasters club to get the feel.)






Just as my book tour was supposed to end, new invitations have been coming my way. I’m finding myself re-energized by the great audiences. We are adding events, so please check my website for new ones that are in the process of being finalized in NY, NJ, AZ and FL!

Here, having fun with NYT bestselling author, Barbara Shapiro ("The Muralist," "The Art Forger") with whom I shared the stage in the Polo Club, Boca Raton (FL). In this photo we are comparing our opposing footwear....




Just as HOTEL MOSCOW is often being selected by book clubs, my previous novels are going strong too, leading by JERUSALEM MAIDEN. I Skype with groups often, so if you know of a book club among your friends, please suggest that they contact me at AuthorTalia@aol.com to schedule my participation. Needless to say, it adds a whole new dimension to have the author available to add to the discussion.


After hours of pleasure authors give you, you can do something for them—and I take the liberty of speaking on behalf of all of us who toil at the craft: Post reviews. Sometimes just a couple of lines would do.
Not surprisingly, authors whose readers are younger tend to get more digital reviews than authors whose readers are less engaged with internet sites and activities. I urge you to “act young” and post reviews for books you’ve enjoyed. (Here are my links for HOTEL MOSCOW on Amazon and GoodReads.)




There is no greater pleasure for an author than to share her work with appreciative audience. Thank you for taking this journey with me!

Thank you for your great support—and have a great Spring!

Talia
www.TaliaCarner.com

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Early Fall Is Here!


Book tour takes me to magical places....

I accepted the invitation to present at Hadassah in Newport, RI for the chance to travel across the Long Island Sound by three ferries--always a delightful treat on a bright August day.

My husband and I arrived the evening before to enjoy a seafood dinner in the heart of the tourist area in the marina. What a wonderful sunset!

It felt just as magical when, the following day, over a sold-out luncheon of 200 attendees, I presented the background of HOTEL MOSCOW (to a great applause!)

My appearances continue into 2017!!!!



I love public speaking almost as much as I love writing--and apparently it shows, because invitations to keynote events are spilling into a second year of book touring for HOTEL MOSCOW.

Long Island, Florida and New Jersey, here is my list of upcoming events confirmed. (If registration contact is not posted, please contact me directly.)

Saturday, October 15, 2016, 12:00 PM
American Association of University Women
Smithtown Branch
Voila, The Bistro,
244 Lake Avenue
St. James, NY
OPEN TO PUBLIC ($55.00/ Pre-registration required at caftiwalsh@yahoo.com)

Thursday, October 20, 2016, 11:30 AM 
Seaport Hadassah Chapter
Annual Book & Author luncheon
1 Jefferson Ferry Drive, S. Setauket, NY


2017
Tuesday, January 17, 2017, 7:30 PM 
36th Annual Miami Jewish Book Festival
Alper JCC Berrin Family
Futernick Art Gallergy
11155 S.W. 112th Ave., Miami, FL 33176
PUBLIC EXPRESSLY INVITED

Wednesday, January 18, 2017, time TBD
Fountains Country Club
4476 Fountains Drive
Lake Worth, FL

Tuesday, February 21, 2017, 10:30 AM 
Yaffa Hadassah
Valencia Shore
7751 Valencia Shore Drive
Lake Worth, FL 33467

Thursday, March 9, 2017, 10:15 AM 
Lunch & Learn
Polo Club of Boca Raton
5400 Chamption Blvd
Boca Raton, FL
PUBLIC INVITED (pre-registration required.)

Thursday, May 4th, 2017, 11:30 AM 
Book and Author Luncheon
Brandeis National Committee
Middlesex NJ chapter
Pine Manor, 2085 Rt. 27
Edison, NJ 08817
PUBLIC INVITED (pre-registration required.)

(If your community or organization is having an event and needs an engaging speaker, please have them check the testimonials--and contact me


Sharing the stage with other authors....
Readers are sometimes surprised that their favorite authors have not met in person, forgetting that most often we don't all live in the same neighborhood.... That's why I enjoy sharing the stage at some literary events with another author (or two,) whose works I admire.

 This year I've had the pleasure of meeting in person bestselling authors B.A. Shapiro, David Greene, Lynn Cullen, Charlie Lovett, Jillian Cantor, Pam Jenoff, Ellen Meister, Naomi Eve, and Brenda Janowitz.
(Photo, with Ellen Meister, author of the bestseller, "Dorothy Parker Drank Here.")


My previous novel, JERUSALEM MAIDEN has done it again!


In August, my previous novel, JERUSALEM MAIDEN was listed in Amazon Movers & Shakers. Once again--five years after its release(!)--it made it again to the top 100 digital list!
I thank you all, devoted readers, who continue to share the buzz around. Many of you have asked for a sequel. I'm working on it in my head, since that story needs to brew....

(In the meantime I am hard at work on my 5th novel that, once again, tells a heart-wrenching--and mind-boggling--story that has barely been touched in fiction before.)

 MOSCOW is hot!


Every day, news of global events continue to take center stage. Readers of HOTEL MOSCOW report how they better understand the Soviet psyche as it seeps into today's event. (Check the video book trailer.)

This is most often the topic of my presentations titled, "Russia: When the rug was pulled out" or "The morning after: When a nation wakes up to 'Democracy'."

Happy [Jewish] New Year!

To all my Jewish friends and readers, let's hope that the coming year be one of sanity and peace, one of openness and common-sense....

Thank you everyone for your support and for sharing my publishing journey,
Talia

Talia Carner
www.TaliaCarner.com



P.S. If you haven't yet read HOTEL MOSCOW, here are links  for both the trade paperback--about $13--or the digital format.
You may read the first chapter on my website or download a digital sample.