Ms. Magazine co-founder to speak about latest book

Letty Cottin Pogrebin’s latest book, “Single Jewish Male Seeking Soul Mate,” may be a novel, but whe
Letty Cottin Pogrebin at the JWA Making Trouble/Making History luncheon on March 18, 2012. (Dana Meilijson/
Letty Cottin Pogrebin at the JWA Making Trouble/Making History luncheon on March 18, 2012. (Dana Meilijson/

Letty Cottin Pogrebin’s latest book, “Single Jewish Male Seeking Soul Mate,” may be a novel, but whether fact or fiction, her writing will always include some loud and articulate message.

“I am very deeply committed to a whole set of issues, and those things that have animated my activism throughout my life both as a woman and a writer are things that are naturally woven into my fiction,” said Pogrebin, co-founder of Ms. Magazine and the author of 11 books.

“Equal rights, fairness, social justice, mutual respect and intergroup harmony. Those are things I’ve been fighting for since 1970.”

“Single Jewish Male Seeking Soul Mate” is Pogrebin’s 11th book and just her second novel. She will talk about her newest work as well as her 2002 novel, “Three Daughters,” and her nine books of non-fiction at the Schenectady County Public Library at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday night. The event is being co-sponsored by the Open Door Bookstore.

‘Single Jewish Male Seeking Soul Mate’

WHAT: A book talk by Letty Cottin Pogrebin

WHERE: McChesney Room, Schenectady County


WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday


MORE INFO: 388-4511,

“My new book brings up countless number of issues that should be of interest to people who are touched in any way by intermarriage, by questions of personal ethnicity and peoplehood identity. I’ll talk about that and issues of inherited trauma such as the Holocaust and slavery experience.”

Pogrebin was born in June of 1939 in New York City. Her father was a labor attorney and her mother a homemaker who had emigrated to the U.S. from Hungary when she was 9.

“My father was born here but he really had to work his way up,” said Pogrebin. “He graduated from law school in 1923, which was very unusual because there was a quota against Jews in law school back then. I think that’s why Jews identify with so many other groups. We’ve been there.”

Before she wrote such books as “Deborah, Golda, and Me,” “Growing Up Free,” “How to Make it in a Man’s World,” and “How to be a Friend to a Friend Who’s Sick,” Pogrebin joined forces with Gloria Steinem and Dorothy Pitman Hughes to produce “Ms. Magazine” in 1971.

“I had graduated from high school when I was 16 and college when I was 19,” said Pogrebin, who went to Brandeis University.

“Then I had to work to support myself and I had a 13-year career in the publishing industry before I really got involved in the contemporary women’s movement in 1970 with Ms. Magazine. I did marry a lawyer and we had three kids, so I’ve ended up living a conventional life but with all these radical ideas going on in my head.”

Among her many accomplishments is an Emmy Award for the television special “Free to Be . . . You and Me.” She also wrote a column called “The Working Woman,” for Ladies Home Journal, and co-founded the National Women’s Political Caucus.

“I write for anybody and everybody,” she said. “They may seem to be about Jews, but I’m using the Jewish experience to reflect on the larger canvas of identity. Whatever your affiliation might be. I have friends who are Irish Catholic, and they are as connected to their heritage and their struggle as much as I am mine. My books are for them, too.”

In “Single Jewish Male Seeking Soul Mate,” Pogrebin explores issues of race, gender, ethnicity and religion through two very different characters.

“The son of a Holocaust survivor promises his mother on her death bed that he will marry a Jewish woman and raise Jewish children, but he falls in love with an African-American talk show host and activist,” said Pogrebin, setting up the premise of her book.

“Both of them have to deal with the pull of love vs. the obligation and responsibility to their history. But it’s also about any heritage or tradition that people think is worth keeping and honoring, and should love trump the sense of one’s responsibility to that history. In many cases it’s not always easy to integrate them.”

Pogrebin is finding fiction a little bit easier to produce than non-fiction. “When I’m writing fiction I can just grab my computer and take it out to the hammock,” she said. “Real journalism is so much more demanding, and I have always been very meticulous in my research when I’m working in non-fiction. I am zealous. I check quotes and you’re required to do it accurately. I get very mired in my research. You’re tied to what somebody actually said and sometimes it can be a little incoherent. In fiction, you can say it better.”

Reach Gazette reporter Bill Buell at 395-3190 or [email protected]

Categories: Entertainment

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