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Lunch With Books: Andy Fraenkel

February 25, 2014


Event starts at 12:00 PM.

Andy Fraenkel will discuss Mahabharata: The Eternal Quest , his recently published, 'fast-paced, cinematic' rendition of India's ancient classic. Fraenkel will provide us with a lively introduction to the epic along with a story or two from the book, which has received acclaim from scholars across the country. Fraenkel is a decorated multicultural storyteller, author, and workshop leader.

More information:

Fraenkel to Discuss Indian Epic at Lunch With Books

On Tuesday, February 25 at noon, storyteller and author Andy Fraenkel will be at Lunch With Books at the Ohio County Public Library in Wheeling to discuss his book, Mahabharata: The Eternal Quest, based on the great Indian epic. Creating the book has been a lifelong journey for Fraenkel.

While attending the City University of New York, Fraenkel spent a lot of time in the college library, where he discovered an old book, The Indian Story Book (1914) by Richard Wilson, about India’s ancient stories, which included some from the epic, Mahabharata. The book jumped out at him–an old collectable that started him on a journey that he continues to this day. Fraenkel, majoring in Theater, turned one of the Mahabharata stories into a one-act play. His theater class decided to use his piece as one of four plays they performed for elementary schools on Staten Island.

After graduating in 1970, Fraenkel left New York and over the years was involved with several regional theater groups, including the long-lived Broom Street Theater in Madison, WI. In the early 1980s, he formed his own group, the Theater of Understanding, and staged stories from world cultures. Eventually, Fraenkel made several trips to India, which helped shape a full-length, two-man Mahabharata drama that appeared Off Broadway in 1987 at the American Theater of Actors in Manhattan.

After suffering a heart attack, Fraenkel transitioned to dramatic storytelling, became a member of the National Storytelling Network, and began offering multicultural storytelling programs and workshops in schools, colleges, libraries, museums, and special events. He was to receive a West Virginia Artist Fellowship Award for his work. Information about his professional programs is available online.

Now, with the recent publication of his book, Mahabharata: The Eternal Quest, Andy Fraenkel has come full circle since the time he first discovered The Indian Story Book. He had started working on his Mahabharata manuscript in 2000. He explains the intent of his rendition was threefold, “to deliver the story as good literature, to give it a cinematic slant, as potentially the basis for a film, and to keep it at a length that could easily be studied in college classrooms.”

Since he doesn’t read Sanskrit, his primary source was Kisari Mohan Ganguli’s monumental, first-ever, complete English translation, completed in 1896 in 12 volumes. “Writing Mahabharata was like going on a journey,” says Fraenkel. “Sometimes it was exhilarating. Sometimes it was discouraging. I wondered if I could really pull it off successfully. I would stop writing for months at a time and go on to other projects. Ever so gradually, the manuscript came together. I tried to find the unique elements of each part of the story. Over the years, writing Mahabharata has been a wonderful meditation for me. An old Hindu monk in India told me, ‘Once you let the story into your heart, it will never leave you’.”

To learn more about his book, visit the Mahabharata Project Website at mahabharata-project.com. Lunch With Books programs are free and open to the public. Patrons are invited to bring a bag lunch and complimentary beverages are served. Call the library for more information at 304-232-0244 or visit ohiocountylibrary.org.

"Lunch With Books” is the library’s flagship program for adult patrons. Bring a bag lunch and enjoy presentations by authors, poets, historians, musicians and a variety of other people. Complimentary beverages are provided. These free programs usually start at noon on Tuesdays in the auditorium on the lower level of the library.

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Feedback from our guests:

“Lunch With Books is an outstanding program — one of the best in the country.” -NPR Journalist Matthew Algeo, The President is a Sick Man

“With a new book in hand, I’ve visited a lot of libraries lately, and I think the Ohio County Public Library is my all-time favorite.” -Jaimy Gordon, Lord of Misrule (National Book Award winner)

“We set a personal attendance record and personal best for the number of books sold!” -Peter Zeranski, Polish Classic Recipes

“I am completely smitten with the Lunch with Books patrons...It’s not always easy to read one’s fiction in public, but this library family provided a sea of welcoming faces filled with warmth, attentiveness, and good will. Their generous laughter and emotional investment helped me to bring my prose fully to life.” -Marie Manilla, Still Life with Plums and Shrapnel

“If I want the best and most attentive and responsive audience I know I will have it at Lunch With Books.” -Jim O'Brien, The Chief and Steeler Stuff 

“This is the best series of its kind that I've seen in all my travels in OH-WV-PA.” -Jim Joyce, The Bicycle Book: Wit, Wisdom, & Wanderings 

“Lunch With Books is the best adult library program that I have seen in the state.” -Bob Barnett, Growing Up in the Last Small Town


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Ohio County Public Library

The Ohio County Public Library serves all persons who live in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia, which includes Hancock, Brooke, Ohio, Marshall, Wetzel and Tyler counties. Residents in Jefferson, Belmont and Monroe counties of Ohio and Washington, Greene and Allegheny counties of Pennsylvania may also receive library services. 

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Wheeling WV 26003
Phone: 304-232-0244
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