Event—Public Programming

Ben Hecht: Fighting Words, Moving Pictures


Ben Hecht's 1928 Best Story Oscar for Underworld, Newberry Collection

Listen to an audio recording of this program.

In Adina Hoffman's Ben Hecht: Fighting Words, Moving Pictures, Chicago becomes its own character. Hoffman writes in detail about Hecht's years here and his involvement both with the city's newspapers and with the Chicago Renaissance.

Join us as we hear from Adina Hoffman about Ben Hecht, her book, and how she used the Newberry's Modern Manuscripts collections to research this larger-than-life character. "As for the Newberry—I couldn't have written the book without it!" Hoffman said. "Much of the material I used I drew from the amazing Hecht collection there. I also used the Sherwood Anderson papers and the MacAdams papers. As someone who has spent a lot of time in archives and loves archival work, I was especially happy to be at the Newberry, combing Hecht's correspondence, his drafts, his photographs (and holding his first Oscar!). It's a constantly startling trove."

After her talk, the author will sign copies of the book, which will be available for purchase in the Newberry Rosenberg Book Shop.

Award-winning essayist and biographer Adina Hoffman writes often of the Middle East, approaching it from unusual angles and shedding light on overlooked dimensions of the place, its people, and their cultures. She is the author of House of Windows: Portraits from a Jerusalem Neighborhood, My Happiness Bears No Relation to Happiness: A Poet's Life in the Palestinian Century, Till We Have Built Jerusalem: Architects of a New City, and, with Peter Cole, Sacred Trash: The Lost and Found World of the Cairo Geniza, which won the American Library Association's prize for the best Jewish book of 2011. A Guggenheim Foundation Fellow and one of the inaugural winners of the Windham Campbell Literary Prizes, she lives in Jerusalem and New Haven. Ben Hecht: Fighting Words, Moving Pictures is a part of the Yale University Press Jewish Lives series, designed to explore the many facets of Jewish identity through interpretative biographies.

Read The New Yorker's new review of this book, by David Denby.

Download a PDF flyer for this event to post and distribute, and consult the inventory of the Ben Hecht papers, including letters, artifacts, and papers ranging from 1879 to 1983, which are part of the Newberry's Modern Manuscripts collection.

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