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Guest blog – Debut Novelist Week in Rochester

 Rochester Jewish Book Festival and Writers & Books are bringing debut novelists to town this week for a series of events.

Lauren Acampora, whose book The Wonder Garden has been called “deliciously creepy and masterfully choreographed,” will kick off the 2015-16 season of Writers & Books’ Debut Novel Series on Thursday.

Her events at Writers & Books, 740 University  Avenue, include a publishing forum at 7:30 p.m. Thursday (no charge); a public reading and book signing  at 7:30 p.m. Friday ($8 members, $10 general public) and a master class from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday ($35 members / $40 general  public).  Info at or 473-2590.

At noon on Friday, Jessamyn Hope and Sigal Samuel will be in conversation at the annual Fiction Panel Luncheon of the Lane Dworkin Rochester Jewish Book Festival, now in its 23rd year. The luncheon and the remaining festival events take place at the JCC, 1200 Edgewood Avenue. Advance tickets are $20 members, $25 general public and available at the JCC (461-2000) and




Hope’s novel Safekeepingabout a young addict who hopes to redress a past crime by finding the woman his grandfather once loved and giving her a priceless family heirloom — earned the No. 2 spot on Buzzfeed’s recent list of “53 Books You Won’t Be Able to Put Down.” The Boston Globe put Safekeeping on its list of 2015 Summer Reads.




Samuel’s The Mystics of Mile End, explores religion, science, chaos, order, love, grief — and, of course, the pathways to meaning in life, as three relatives narrate a single story about their life in the Mile End section of Montreal. Sigal’s novel is “full of charm and heart,” one reviewer said, and takes up “enormous questions … with both profound intelligence and galloping humor.”



Written by Ellen Comisar, Festival Chair of The Lane Dworkin Jewish Book Festival