The Shmutz: CBE Writers Get Real
Felicia Berliner on Shmutz in conversation with Courtney Zoffness
Tuesday, May 23 at 7:00 PM
CBE Chapel, 274 Garfield Place
At CBE, we count many acclaimed authors, journalists, and screenwriters among our membership. We hope you will join us for our new quarterly series, curated by member author Anna Solomon, where the writers in our midst will introduce us to the books, ideas, and authors they can’t stop thinking about.
Our next event features Felicia Berliner, author of the aptly named Shmutz, in conversation with member author Courtney Zoffness. Berliner’s story follows a young ultra-Orthodox woman with a secret addiction to online pornography. Berliner and Zoffness will discuss all manner of unholy questions about desire, womanhood, and the dirty web — and what Judaism might teach us about it all.
Signed books will be available for purchase following the event, along with a reception. The event is free and open to the public. Please click here to register in advance.
Don’t miss the shmutziest Shmutz event yet!
In this witty, provocative, and unputdownable debut novel a young Hasidic woman on a quest to get married fears she will never find a groom because of her secret addiction to porn.
Like the other women in her ultra-Orthodox Brooklyn community, Raizl expects to find a husband through an arranged marriage. Unlike the other women, Raizl has a secret. With a hidden computer to help her complete her college degree, she falls down the slippery slope of online pornography. As Raizl dives deeper into the world of porn at night, her daytime life begins to unravel. Between combative visits with her shrink to complicated arranged dates, Raizl must balance her growing understanding of her sexuality with the more conventional expectations of the family she loves.
Shmutz is for anyone who gravitates towards TV shows like RAMI and KIM’S CONVENIENCE and books like Melissa Broder’s Milk Fed, Ottessa Moshfegh’s My Year of Rest and Relaxation, and Sayaka Murata’s Convenience Store Woman—stories featuring characters trying to balance the obligations and comforts of tradition and heritage with modernity, freedom, and self-realization. A singular, stirring, and compulsively readable debut novel, Shmutz explores what it means to be a fully realized sexual and spiritual being caught between the traditional and modern worlds.
Felicia Berliner lives in New York City. Shmutz is her first novel. She has an MFA from Columbia University, and her essays have appeared in LitHub, the Paper Brigade, and other outlets. She grew up in Los Angeles and attended yeshiva high school. Felicia coaches writers, artists, entrepreneurs, educators, and other change-makers. Online @feliciaberliner
Courtney Zoffness is the author of Spilt Milk (McSweeney’s, 2021), named a best debut of the year by BookPage and Refinery29 and a “must-read” by Good Morning America. She won the Sunday Times Short Story Award, the largest international prize for short fiction, and received fellowships from The Center for Fiction and MacDowell. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, The Paris Review Daily, and other venues. She directs the creative writing program at Drew University.