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Jennifer Lang
Places We Left Behind
March 7, 2024
3 PM PST | 4 PM MST | 5 PM CST | 6 PM EST

Like many writers, I circled around and around this story, trying to figure out the heart of it. For years, I wrote and published essays about home and belonging, language and longing.

During my low-residency MFA at Vermont College of Fine Arts, where I worked with four different mentors, Patrick Madden planted the first seed, pointing out that my bicultural, multilingual marriage deserved more space in my writing. I spent the next four months in the margins asking him what was so interesting about my marriage.

This (my first book) is that: Places We Left Behind is a love story with a lot of conflict—inner and personal, marital and geopolitical—about home.


When American-born Jennifer falls in love with French-born Philippe during the First Intifada in Israel, she understands their relationship isn’t perfect.

Both 23, both Jewish, they lead very different lives: she’s a secular tourist, he’s an observant immigrant. Despite their opposing outlooks on two fundamental issues—country and religion—they are determined to make it work. For the next 20 years, they root and uproot their growing family, each longing for a singular place to call home.

In Places We Left Behind, Jennifer puts her marriage under a microscope, examining commitment and compromise, faith and family while moving between prose and poetry, playing with language and form, daring the reader to read between the lines.

What I hope readers take away from the book:

  • The importance of holding onto your voice in your marriage/relationship/friendship/workplace
  • The joy of playing on the page
  • Therapy—why, what, when
  • The meaning of persistence to help re-vision/revamp/rewrite until you find what works
  • How to pivot from writer to publicist, what it means, what it takes, why it’s important


Born in the San Francisco Bay Area, Jennifer Lang lives in Tel Aviv. She holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and served as an Assistant Editor for Brevity Journal for the past few years. Several of her essays have been nominated for prizes, including “Things Lost, Things Found,” “Fifty Days of Summer,” “The Fabric of Peace,” “Seven Definitions of Secret,” and “Hand in hand,” a chapter from her first memoir. “Uprooted” won first place in Baltimore Review’s contest and “Repeat the Enchanting” in Midway Journal.

In 2015, Jennifer created Israel Writers Studio, where she teaches ongoing classes and workshops, as well as hosts guest instructors. When not at her desk, she is likely on her yoga mat, either practicing or teaching YogaProse: using your practice to write your story.

Her award-winning Places We Left Behind: a memoir-in-miniature will be followed by Landed: A yogi’s memoir in pieces & poses (10/15/2024) both with Vine Leaves Press.

Website: https://israelwriterstudio.com
Instagram: instagram.com/jenlangwrites
Facebook: facebook.com/jenlangwrites and facebook.com/israelwriterstudio


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