I am in the final mad dash-to-the-finish on a draft of my next book, Irena’s Children (forthcoming from Gallery/Simon & Schuster, autumn 2016). It is the story of Holocaust-era heroine Irena Sendler, who helped 2,500 Jewish children flee the Warsaw ghetto. Some of those children live today in the United States, especially in New York City, where I am talking with survivors, running down sources at the New York Public Library, and, in the after-hours, getting a chance to catch up with some of the recent Colby graduates who are taking the publishing world by storm.

What I’m Reading

John Vaillant’s The Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth, Madness, and Greed. I picked this book up in an airport in British Columbia, and it made me cry on the airplane. It’s about the settlement of Vancouver Island, the environmental destruction of the West, and one man’s decision to cut down the world’s only golden spruce, a 300-year-old “magical” tree, sacred to the native Haida Gwaii.

Andrea Camilleri, Angelica’s Smile. I am a die-hard mystery buff, and I got hooked on his bone-dry wit about eight books ago.

Jonas Turkow, Ala Golomb-Grynberg. So you have to read this one either in Spanish or Yiddish (I went with Spanish). It’s the story of a Jewish nurse whose life rivals that of Irena Sendler.

Victoria Moreno-Arribas and Carmen Polo, Wine Chemistry and Biochemistry. I am one course away from completing the winemaking program at University of California, Davis, and this is one of the textbooks. Just so you know that English professors feel your pain in organic chemistry. Argggh … aldehydes, phenols, esters!