Monday, March 11, 2013

Judie Oron at the Jerusalem Book Fair

Last month, author Judie Oron was invited to speak about her novel, Cry of the Giraffe, at the 26th Jerusalem International Book Fair. (She was happy to note that her trip was made possible by a generous travel grant from the Canada Council for the Arts and with the support of the Canadian Embassy in Tel Aviv.) On February 12, she was interviewed by renowned author and educator Dr. Chaim Peri as part of the book fair's prestigious Literary Café.

(above, below) Dr. Chaim Peri and Judie Oron answer questions at the Jerusalem International Book Fair.
While Cry of the Giraffe is listed as fiction, it is based on the experiences of Judie's adopted daughter ("Wuditu" in the book) in the late 1980s as she traveled from Ethiopia to Sudan, hoping to reach Israel. (Wuditu and her family are Ethiopian Jews, who faced religious persecution in their community.) While her parents were successfully transported to Israel, Wuditu and her little sister Lewteh were caught and taken back to Ethiopia, where they struggled to survive and be reunited with their family. Judie's interview sparked an animated discussion about Wuditu's decision to expose such a painful story. After all, even when the Holocaust ended, it took many years before people began to reveal their tragic experiences. Wuditu’s courage in being the first woman in her community to tell her story publicly received much praise.

The launch of the Hebrew edition of Cry of the Giraffe received exceptional coverage in Israel’s Hebrew, English, and Amharic media, such that the author briefly lost her voice after giving back-to-back interviews during the five days of the Book Fair. The book's release in Hebrew also coincided with a special date for the author and her two adopted daughters, Wuditu and Lewteh: on February 21, they celebrated the 21st anniversary of the day that Wuditu was found in Ethiopia and released from slavery. (Judie notes that a spectacular amount of shopping featured prominently in the celebration, with dining and dancing coming in a close second.)

Upon her return home, Judie received a warm welcome from broadcast journalist Gail Vaz-Oxlade (Newstalk 1010, Late Shift with Gail Vaz-Oxlade), who interviewed her about Wuditu's experiences both in the time period covered in the book and afterward, when she arrived in Israel with Judie. Click below to play a clip (sound only):

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