Faye Moskowitz is a Washington, D.C.-based memoirist and short story writer.
Her Face in the Mirror: Jewish Women on Mothers and Daughters; And The Bridge Is Love; Whoever Finds This: I Love You; A Leak in the Heart; Peace in the House
1987 Nominee for Pushcart Prize, Awarded the 1993 and 1994 PEN Syndicated Fiction Award (Spring Break and "And Go Seek")
Which one or two American books or plays would you yourself recommend to the foreign leaders?
This is an impossible task, to winnow out a lifetime of reading and decide on one or two books for a foreign leader to read. But if I have to choose, I might say James Agee's A Death in the Family because of its universal themes of love and loss. It could certainly show people from other places how much we have in common. And as for a play, I guess if pinned down, I'd opt for Tony Kushner's Angels in America, for its exploration of events and themes peculiar to this country, but universal, as well.
Who in your childhood—for example, parent or teacher—encouraged you to read books, and which one or two books do you remember most fondly?
I grew up in a household where the only books were written in Yiddish, and there were few enough of them. My parents did not read anything but newspapers, generally the Daily Forward, written in Yiddish. So encouraging me to read in English was a task that fell to my teachers and mainly to the head librarian in the Jackson, Michigan Public Library, a refuge and an endless fountain to quench my thirst for reading. It seems to me now that I was largely self-taught. It was my goal to read every book in the library, and I can tell you the names of authors beginning with "A" and "B" as testimony to the prodigious amount of reading I managed to do. I remember E. Nesbit (much further down the alphabet), whose books enchanted me.
Which books by writers of the other G8 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom) have been most important to you as a writer?
Early on I made no distinction in my reading concerning an author's country of origin (E. Nesbit is an early example). But as I grew and my tastes became more guided and more sophisticated, I came across memorable work from other countries. Camus's The Stranger still haunts me with its unforgettable opening line. Alan Paton's Cry the Beloved Country was another book that still resonates with me, as does any work by Nadine Gordimer. I discovered Aldous Huxley early on, and Point Counterpoint helped shape me as a writer. I read all of Hermann Hesse in the ’70s and I go back to Franz Kafka again and again, especially his short story, "The Metamorphosis." Vladimir Nabokov influences me to this day, especially his memoir of childhood.