On a beautiful summer night, the full front of the house at Max and Benny’s was uncharacteristically quiet between seven and eight as they listened to author Scott Turow discuss his new book Testimony and other matters of interest. Testimony is set in Bosnia and The Hague, far from Turow’s familiar Kindle County. It delves into the mysterious world of the Roma people, and the inner workings of the U.N.’s International Court of Justice. The author visited both Bosnia and the Netherlands to do his research.

During the q and a, Ross Steinberg, a student of creative writing at Northwestern, asked him how a writer balances the demands of the craft with the realities of other things going on in one’s life. Turow, prolific and popular in writing, while also achieving great success in the field of law, said that discipline in writing was essential. “A writer has to get his tush in his chair each day, even it’s only for a half hour, and write.”
After the presentation, I talked to some of the folks who were there. Shelly Spak liked “the author’s subject matter and the way he established an immediate rapport with the audience.” Tony Fernandez found Turow’s “frank discussion of the Roma and the International Court of Justice especially interesting to the layman. I learned a lot this evening.”

I came away from the evening with a good feeling, observing that books and the literary world are still important in the lives of so many people.

A Hamish Evening with Scott Turow

In Leo Rosten’s classic lexicon of Yiddish words, The Joys of Yiddish, one of the definitions of haimish is “informal, cozy, warm.” And I think that best describes the atmosphere in the room last evening at Max and Benny’s Restaurant and Deli where author Scott Turow spoke at the Chicago Jewish Authors Literary Series.

Nearly everyone among the 250 people in the audience was Jewish. When asked by a reporter how he felt speaking in front of such a preponderantly Jewish crowd, Turow answered “I’m grateful to them for being proud of me.”

Turow was truly in his comfort zone, speaking to the audience not only about his books and legal career, but also about growing up Jewish in his preteen years in the very Jewish neighborhood of West Rogers Park in the 50s and early 60s, attending Rogers elementary school, playing at Indian Boundary Park and eating at local delis.

Those of us who listened to him last night truly felt that pride of one of our own who has done well in life and who has made his mark on society.