I was particularly interested in the Washington Jewish Literary Festival this year because of its theme, “Unexpected Journeys.” It fit its title from the start. My first event of the festival, the Local Authors Panel on March 15, was also the opening event because of an unexpected late winter snowstorm that delayed the start of the festival. And in asking local Jewish authors about the festival theme, I too was taken down a surprising road.
The moderator of the Local Authors panel was Leslie Maitland, a former award-winning reporter and national correspondent for the New York Times. Maitland opened the event by introducing herself and describing how she came to write her own book about her mother’s escape from Europe during World War II. She retraced her mother’s past both physically, by visiting the places her mother had travelled through, and intellectually, by working to research what had happened to the long-lost love her mother had been forced to leave behind.