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Interview with Brenda Janowitz: author of The Dinner Party

The Dinner Party

What inspired you to write

The Dinner Party: A Novel


I wanted to write a book about letting go, and how we can only move on with our future once we’ve let go of the past. Passover was the perfect metaphor for this, so the idea for the book was born!

How did you arrive at the title? And, why did you choose to center the story on Passover, specifically the Seder dinner?

The working title of the book was The Last Supper, which refers to the theory that the Last Supper was actually a Passover Seder. But my editor felt that the themes were so much more universal—family, acceptance, social status—and didn’t want to limit our audience for the book. So we thought about the crux of the book, and it’s truly about three families getting together for a family meal, so we came up a new title, a more fitting title: The Dinner Party.

Let’s talk about Sylvia Gold, the main character in the story. As with any family gathering, there is often drama and dysfunction. How does this doting Jewish mother cope with the strong personalities present at her holiday meal?

Sylvia likes to be in control. Especially at a holiday meal, and especially when there is company she is trying to impress. So, Sylvia undertakes a massive overhaul on her house and hires a personal chef for the occasion. That way, she can focus on what’s important. But little does she know the entire meal is about to spiral completely out of control…

As moms, what valuable life lessons can we learn from Sylvia’s experiences with her family, and especially her children?

That’s a great question! I think that one takeaway is that as far as children are concerned, control is an illusion. You can’t control other people, or how they act, so the best thing to do is let them be who they are.

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Please take us on a tour of your website highlighting points of interest.

I recently re-designed my website just for this novel! The fabulous Sarah Pinneo created it for me, and I couldn’t be prouder. One of the things I really wanted to do for the new site was to highlight The Dinner Party, and also my freelance work. So, on the home page, you’re immediately directed to take a peek at The Dinner Party.

Scrolling down, you can find links to my social media, and also the covers of all of my books. We wanted to create a site that was really easy to use, with everything at your fingertips.

The next tab shows you all five of my books—just click on the book you’re interested in learning about. After that, I’ve got a tab called “Essays” which has links to my freelance work. There are links for my bio and contact information, and we just put one in for “Events.”

I’m so incredibly proud of the site. I think it gives readers an easy way to get to know me, my books, and my other work. I hope you’ll all visit!

Are you currently at work on your next novel? If so, what may you share with our readers?

I am! I’m presently working on a book about marriage and parenthood.

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