Michael Goldfarb Revealed
About Michael Goldfarb
What is your birthdate?:9/20
Previous occupations:Actor, taxi driver, casting assistant, legal proofreader, warehouseman
Favorite job:Writing books and doing radio.
High school and/or college:Harriton High School, Lower Merion PA and Antioch College, Yellow Springs Ohio
Name of your favorite composer or music artist?:Shostakovich and Steve Earle
Favorite movie:Ride the High Country
Favorite television show:The Wire
- Q. How would you describe your life in only 8 words?
- A. observed, reported, reflected, then I wrote books
- Q. What is your motto or maxim?
- A. Deadlines are sacred
- Q. How would you describe perfect happiness?
- A. solvency
- Q. What’s your greatest fear?
- A. Being unable to work
- Q. If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
- A. On a clifftop overlooking the Mediterranean watching the sunset
- Q. With whom in history do you most identify?
- A. Two forgotten men I found out about while writing Emancipation: Moses Hess and Solomon Maimon.
- Q. Which living person do you most admire?
- A. Nelson Mandela
- Q. What are your most overused words or phrases?
- A. Are you KIDDING me?
- Q. What do you regret most?
- A. That both my parents passed away before they could kvell over Emancipation
- Q. If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
- A. To play piano like Sviatoslav Richter
- Q. What’s your greatest flaw?
- A. A pronounced tendency to see the glass half empty
- Q. What’s your best quality?
- A. An ability to imagine myself inside the shoes of someone from a different culture or historical era
- Q. If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
- A. Conductor, Berlin Philharmonic
- Q. What trait is most noticeable about you?
- A. My speaking voice
- Q. Who is your favorite fictional hero?
- A. Captain Ahab
- Q. Who is your favorite fictional villain?
- A. Inspector Javert
- Q. If you could meet any historical character, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
- A. Julius Caesar at the age of 30 as he stood at the foot of a statue of Alexander the Great weeping because Alexander had conquered the world by that age, and he, Julius, had done nothing. I would tell him, one late bloomer to another, your best days are ahead of you.
- Q. What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
- A. playing with my daughter
- Q. What’s your fantasy profession?
- A. concert pianist
- Q. What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
- A. Intelligence, wit and loyalty
- Q. If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
- A. My wife's cooking
- Q. What are your 5 favorite songs?
- A. Oh, c'mon, only 5?!?! Darkness on the Edge of Town, Tangled up in Blue, Bob Dylan's Dream, Over Yonder (Steve Earle), People Get Ready (Curtis Mayfield)
On Books and Writing
- Q. Who are your favorite authors?
- A. Fiction: Philip Roth, Hilary Mantel, Cormac McCarthy, William Faulkner, Jack London, Poetry: Carol Ann Duffy, Osip Mandelstam, William Shakespeare Uncategorizable: Heinrich Heine Special mention: Parmenides of Elea
- Q. What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
- A. The Bible (King James Version) The Devils Sentimental Education Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man One Hundred Years of Solitude
- Q. Is there a book you love to reread?
- A. Winesburg, Ohio
- Q. Do you have one sentence of advice for new writers?
- A. When you look at your own work and that of your favorite authors, know what you like and know what is good and know that they are not always the same thing.
- Q. How did you come to write Emancipation?
- A. AS a Jew, I had always been interested in the history of Jewish life just after the ghettos were opened. Why was it that after centuries of isolation Jews were able to not only thrive in a new situation but via Marx, Freud, Einstein and artists too numerous to mention make a major contribution to Western Civilization? What price did the Jewish community pay for its rapid assimilation? But the decision to write a book came out of my work as a journalist. After the attacks of September 11th, I found myself reporting on radical Islam. My ears filled with the complaints of angry Muslims everywhere from Cairo to Tehran to just outside my front door in London. One of the young British Muslims I interviewed was involved in a grass-roots organization that held regular meetings in London's East End, once a ghetto for Jewish immigrants, now a neighborhood of Muslim immigrants mostly from Bangladesh. At these forums we debated what it meant to be a Muslim in Britain. Over and over I heard younger Muslims express anger at their experience of integration and assimilation. Their response had been to embrace the more radical interpretation of their religion. The young men grew beards, put on traditional dress and skullcaps; the young women voluntarily wore the veil and segregated themselves from the men. This was not unique to London's East End. It was happening in Amsterdam, Paris and Hamburg. When the French government began to make a fuss about Muslim girls wearing the hijab to school I knew that the laws and traditions they invoked could be traced back to statutes passed in the early days of Emancipation to hasten Jewish integration into French society. I realized following these developments it was worth going through the agony of writing a book that answered the questions "why" and "what price" because the story of Jewish Emancipation had relevance today outside the Jewish community. Not just for the developed world's immigrant Muslim communities but for other racial and ethnic minority groups in this second age of mass immigration. Because the story of Jewish Emancipation is not just about one religious minority's struggles to integrate, it is about a group regarded as an ethnic and racial minority fighting for its place in society, as well.