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Reading Groups

Edna Ferber and Fannie Hurst: Significant 20th-Century Jewish Women Novelists with Donna Raskin


Four Sessions

Out of stock

Four Sessions Fridays, 7:00 pm EDT - 8:30 pm EDT March 3 to June 2, 2023

Online via Zoom

Registration for this group has closed.

Meeting Dates:
3/3, 4/7, 5/5, 6/2
Online via Zoom

Edna Ferber and Fannie Hurst were two of the most significant novelists of the 20th century and they were both Jewish women. Ferber won a Pulitzer Prize and wrote novels on which many shows and movies were based (Show Boat, Cimarron, Giant). Fannie Hurst was a more commercial novelist who wrote bestsellers that became big movies, including Back Street and Imitation of Life. They both focused on women’s working lives, and addressed racism and money. Viewed from today’s lens, their novels are dated in some ways, but, in their time, they were considered groundbreaking. They should be more well known, but they have been largely ignored by literary historians. We will read So Big and Giant by Ferber and Back Street and Imitation of Life by Hurst. All four are also classic films, two of which have been remade multiple times.

Please be aware that Fannie Hurst, who worked closely with Langston Hughes and Zora Neal Hurston, has a Black character use the N-word in her novels. We will discuss this in our group, without using the word, and explore why Hughes and Hurston defended her depiction of Black women, although Hughes eventually reversed his opinion.


Led by

  • Donna Raskin

    Donna Raskin

    Donna Raskin

    Donna Raskin is a longtime writer and editor who currently works at Hearst covering health and fitness for Runner’s World and Bicycling. She has run a number of book groups through The Center for Fiction on topics including setting, villains, food, and revisionist genre.