With nearly a century of life behind her, Stella Levi had never before spoken in detail about her past. Then she met Michael Frank. He came to her Greenwich Village apartment one Saturday afternoon to ask her a question about the Juderia, the neighborhood in Rhodes where she’d grown up in a Jewish community that had thrived there for half a millennium. Neither of them could know this was the first of one hundred Saturdays that they would spend in each other’s company as Stella traveled back in time to conjure what it felt like to come of age on this luminous, legendary island in the eastern Aegean, which the Italians began governing as an official possession in 1923 and transformed over the next two decades until the Germans seized control and deported the entire Juderia to Auschwitz.
Probing and courageous, candid and sly, Stella is a magical modern-day Scheherazade whose stories reveal what it was like to grow up in an extraordinary place in an extraordinary time—and to construct a life after that place vanished. One Hundred Saturdays is a portrait of one of the last survivors, drawn at nearly the last possible moment; it is also an account of a tender and transformative friendship that develops between storyteller and listener as they explore the fundamental mystery of what it means to collect, share, and interpret the deepest truths of a life deeply lived.
For a preview of Maira Kalman’s artwork click here.
“Incandescent…Frank’s narrative shines with an ebullience, thanks to the ‘unusually rich, textured, and evolving’ life of his utterly enchanting muse. The result provides an essential, humanist look into a dark chapter of 20th-century history”
For a description of One Hundred Saturdays and an advance interview with Michael Frank on Simon & Schuster’s Shelf Awareness, click here
“A stunning achievement—both as a momentous historic retrieval and a work of literary art.”
“This intimate story of one remarkable woman is also the history of a people. One Hundred Saturdays is an important book, brilliantly told and illustrated, and profoundly moving.”
“Like his subject, Stella Levi, Michael Frank is a master storyteller. He knows how to dole out information in a way that is nothing short of brilliant, and in One Hundred Saturdays he even manages to infuse the ghostly past with an air of lively, sympathetic suspense.”
“Stella Levi, now in her late nineties, is a reluctant Scheherazade. Michael Frank, her interlocutor, has a storyteller’s genius for listening. Theirs is a bond that transcends generations, languages, and lived experience. Together they have collaborated on a riveting portrait of a singular young woman who grew up in the old Jewish quarter of Rhodes, dreamed of a vibrant life in Europe, suffered deportation to a series of Nazi death camps, lost her family and her bearings, and made it to the other side. But Scheherazade told stories to survive. Stella Levi’s story illuminates the mysteries of survival.”
“Through the polyphonic story of Stella Levi, a woman severed from her origin but deeply connected to it through memory, Michael Frank conjures up not only the eradication of the Jewish community in Rhodes, but also what preceded it: the life. His book—beautiful, sober, and affecting—is a testament to remembrance and friendship.”
“In One Hundred Saturdays Michael Frank entices readers to fall in love with Jewish Rhodes and its perspicacious bard, Stella Levi, a nonagenarian for whom he, too, seems to have fallen in the course of one hundred Saturdays of intimate, evocative, sometimes painful conversation. Maira Kalman’s dreamy illustrations are the perfect companion to this moving book.”
“Michael Frank has beautifully preserved the lost world of the Jews of Rhodes, through the story of one of its last (if not the last) surviving members. Frank manages to give us – deftly and with great economy – both Stella’s moving personal story and a vivid sense of the society that shaped her: a unique blend of Judeo-Spanish, Italian, French, Turkish, and Greek languages and cultures, an insular and yet cosmopolitan world that the Nazis effectively extinguished.”