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One Hundred Saturdays

Winner of the Jewish Book Council’s Spring 2022 Natan Notable Book Award; two Jewish Book  Council Jewish Book Awards, in the categories of Holocaust Memoir and Sephardic Culture; and the Sophie Brody Medal for outstanding achievement in Jewish literature

Finalist for the 2024 Sami Rohr Prize and shortlisted for the 2024 J.Q. Wingate Prize

Named one of the ten best books of 2022 by The Wall Street Journal, one of the top ten nonfiction books of 2022 by Shelf Awareness, and one of the books of the year by the TLS

An Indie Next Pick  and an Audible Editors’ Selection

Published by Avid Reader Press, Souvenir Press/Profile, Rowholt, Einaudi, and forthcoming from Beijing Han Tang, China and Ikaros Books, Greece

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 Sephardic 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 won in 1912 as the Ottoman empire was disintegrating, began officially governing as a colonial possession in 1923, and transformed over the next two decades until the Germans seized control and deported the entire Juderia to Auschwitz in July of 1944.

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.

Read an excerpt from the book on Tablet

For a preview of Maira Kalman’s artwork click here

“Never underestimate the power of friendship at any stage in life. That’s one of the lessons from Michael Frank’s beautiful portrait of the wise and charming nonagenarian, Stella Levi, one of the last remaining Holocaust survivors from the vanished Sephardic community of the Juderia on the Greek island of Rhodes. In relaying her life story, Mr. Frank has pulled off something special: One Hundred Saturdays is a sobering yet heartening book about how friendship, remembrance, and being heard can help assuage profound dislocation and loss. It is also a reminder that the ability to listen thoughtfully is a rare and significant gift.”

—Heller McAlpin, The Wall Street Journal

“A tribute not only to an exceptional time and place, but also to the exceptional person charged with the task of commemorating it, a witness whose independence, integrity, and zest for life would have been irresistible at any time, in any place”

—Ingrid D. Rowland, The New York Review of Books

“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”

Publishers Weekly

“Michael Frank’s moving, beautifully observed book One Hundred Saturdays is partly the story of Stella’s life, but also the history of a friendship”

—A. E. Stallings, The TLS

“A record of a life, and also of [Frank and Levi’s] own deepening intimacy as a woman at the far edge of life gamely considers and reconsiders primordial questions that haven’t any definitive answers.”

—Laurel Berger, The Spectator

“A compelling and unique story of genocide and loss.  The central figure, Stella Levi, is intensely captivating and a woman with remarkable insight.”

—Margaret Heller, Library Journal, starred review

“Reading One Hundred Saturdays is is like watching an artist piece together a mosaic…. A sensitive portrait of an extraordinary woman.”

—Deborah Mason, Book Page, starred review

A “beautifully crafted true story of friendship, love, survival, and redemption.”

— Melissa Norstedt, Booklist, starred review

“Quite simply, essential reading….Michael Frank has done a masterful job with One Hundred Saturdays of coaxing these stories from the sometimes reluctant narrator. The Rhodes Holocaust is an important and lesser-known chapter in history, and Stella Levi’s vivid remembrances deserve a wide audience.”

—Linda Hitchcock,  BookTrib

“As captivating as it is devastating, as unflinching in its truth-telling as it is affectionate”

—Diane Cole, Hadassah Magazine


“Nothing I’d ever done before prepared me for what happened more than seven years ago now, when one evening I sat down at a lecture and struck up a conversation with a then ninety-two-year-old woman named Stella Levi.”

—from “When Writing a Book Means Learning to Listen”, an essay on LitHub


For a description of One Hundred Saturdays and an 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.”

 —Phillip Lopate

“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.”

—Hilma Wolitzer

“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.”

—Wendy Lesser

“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.”

—Judith Thurman

“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.”

—Dalia Sofer

“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.”

—Sarah Stein

“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.”

—Alexander Stille