Joan Leegant, "Displaced Persons: Stories" (New American Press, 2024)


Joan Leegant’s new story collection, Displaced Persons (New American Press 2024) delves into human stories of living in the 21st century. Characters transform after illness or divorce, move to a new city or a new country, get caught between different cultures and traditions, or stumble into scary situations. People can be resilient about change and might rebuild themselves after loss, suffering, and illness, but they don’t all bounce back with equal fervor. Characters struggle with Jewish identity, family issues, social expectations, and health, and stories are set now and, in the past. Some stories are in the states, others are in Europe and Israel. This is a brave collection during a time when antisemitism is bubbling up again, and memories of times past seem surprisingly current.

Joan Leegant’s first book of stories, An Hour in Paradise: Stories (W.W. Norton, 2003), won the PEN/New England Book Award and the Edward Lewis Wallant Award, and was a Finalist for the National Jewish Book Award and a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers pick. She is also the author of a novel, Wherever You Go (W. W. Norton, 2010). Her prize-winning stories have appeared in over two dozen literary magazines and anthologies. She has also written essays and pieces on writing craft. Formerly an attorney, she taught at Harvard, Oklahoma State, and Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle where she was also the writer-in-residence at Hugo House. For five years she was the visiting writer at Bar-Ilan University in Tel Aviv where she also lectured at Israeli schools on American literature and culture under the auspices of the U.S. Embassy, and taught English to African refugees and asylum seekers. She lives in Newton, Massachusetts with her husband, Allen Katzoff, who works in nonprofit administration. When she’s not working, Joan spends a lot of time at the piano playing show tunes, light jazz, and klezmer.

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