April Jewish Bookshelf is here! ChiTribe aims to highlight the creativity and excellence of Jewish authors around the world. Each month we will introduce a new book that is authored by Jewish individuals or is centered on Jewish themes, concepts, and characters.
“From the author of the award-winning FUGITIVE COLORS and THE UNBREAKABLES, WOMAN ON FIRE is a gripping tale of a young, ambitious journalist embroiled in an international art scandal centered around a Nazi-looted masterpiece—forcing the ultimate showdown between passion and possession, lovers and liars, history and truth.”
About the Author
In promoting this month’s Jewish Bookshelf entry, ChiTribe had the opportunity to talk with the author herself, Lisa Barr!
Tell us a little about yourself. Your story.
I like to say I’m a gold-medal Mom of three dramatic, wonderful independent daughters and an award-winning author of three dramatic novels – including my NEW YORK TIMES bestselling historical thriller WOMAN ON FIRE, THE UNBREAKABLES, and award-winning debut historical WWII thriller FUGITIVE COLORS. I served nearly three decades as a journalist both here in Chicago and in Israel. I have contributed to hundreds of publications and covered everything from Parenting to Terrorism … serving as an editor for The Jerusalem Post, managing editor of Today’s Chicago Woman, managing editor of Moment magazine, and as an editor/reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times. Among the highlights of my career, I covered the famous “handshake” between the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, the late PLO leader Yasser Arafat, and President Bill Clinton at the White House. The most meaningful story of my career was interviewing Leah Rabin right after the assassination of her husband for Vogue magazine … and we stayed friends until her passing. I have been featured on Good Morning America, TODAY, and Fox & Friends for my work as an author, journalist, and blogger. An exciting fun fact: Award-winning actress Sharon Stone is set to produce and star in the film adaptation of WOMAN ON FIRE.
What was a key Jewish influence on you as a writer?
I grew up in Northbrook, Illinois, and attended Solomon Schechter Day School, which I always say gave me the goods at a young age. It taught me the beauty in Judaism and Zionism — to listen to others’ opinions but to always think for myself. Most of all, my teachers recognized my love of writing early on, nurtured me, and taught me how to use it … “Ask Questions. Ask Questions … Go deeper.” Solomon Schechter was more than a school, it was a family that shaped and prepped me for my journalistic and literary pursuits later on …
Who are your literary influences?
I was influenced by DH Lawrence, William Shakespeare, Leon Uris, Judith Krantz, Erica Jong, Harry Kemelman – EVERY SINGLE NANCY DREW BOOK … and The Diary of Anne Frank — probably my most important literary influence — still on my nightstand for nearly four decades.
What does it mean to be a Jewish writer/author?
Being a Jewish author is taking responsibility, knowing that your words must carry on a legacy. Words matter, especially in a world with a meteoric rise in antisemitism. As a daughter of a Holocaust survivor, it is essential that I stand up for my Judaism, stand up against anti-Israel rhetoric, and that I keep the memories of our past alive in my literature.
What is the most unique thing about Woman on Fire? What stands out to you compared to your other works?
WOMAN ON FIRE has a little of everything: suspense, history, stolen art, passion, risky journalistic pursuits, and strong fiery women (of course). My goal was to create a page-turner that reflected the more than 600,000 works of so-called “Degenerate Art” that the Nazis confiscated, destroyed and looted during 1933 -1945 – the most massive art heist and darkest period in art history — through the story of ONE Nazi-looted masterpiece and its far-reaching impact on a multi-generational cast of characters. Ironically, stolen art is “trending” – 80 years after the war, this topic is still front-page news.
Finish the phrase – When the Tribe gathers…
Food is abundant, everyone talks over one another … there is laughter … there is love … there is argument … there is history … there is connection.