Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Todd Hasak-Lowy  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Fiction

Audience: Adult; Young Adult;

Born: in Detroit, Michigan

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Illinois Connection

Hasak-Lowy moved to Evanston, Illinois in 2010 and resides there still today.

Biographical and Professional Information

Todd Hasak-Lowy has a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of California, Berkley. For eight years, he was a professor of Hebrew Language and Literature at the University of Florida. During that time, he published scholarly articles and the book, ''Here and Now: History, Nationalism, and Realism in Modern Hebrew Fiction.'' He has also translated the books, ''A Possibility of Violence: An Inspector Avraham Novel'' written by D. A. Mishani, ''Motti'' written by Asaf Schurr, and Netanya written by Dror Burstein. Since moving to Chicago, Hasak-Lowy has turned to writing full-time and has taught various creative writing courses at different institutions including the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Northwestern University and the University of Illinois - Chicago. While his first books were written more for an adult audience, he has since moved into writing books geared more toward young readers. Along with his books listed below, he also co-authored the ebook, ''Sh'ma: The Many Faces of Translation'', with Joel Hecker. In 2015, he contributed to the book, ''Somewhere There Is Still a Sun: A Memoir of the Holocaust'', written by Michael Gruenbaum.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

The Task of This Translator
ISBN: 0156031124

Mariner Books. 2005

Stylistically daring, morally perplexing, and outrageously funny, Todd Hasak-Lowy's The Task of This Translator marks the debut of a writer of extraordinary talent. In these seven stories, Hasak-Lowy captures the absurdity that often arises when very personal crises intersect with global issues such as ethnic violence, obesity, and the media.

A journalist sets out to write an investigative piece on a dieting company that uses bodyguards to protect overeaters from themselves but loses his bearings when he becomes a client and is paired up with a bodyguard of his own. In the coffee shop of Israel's Holocaust memorial museum, a stale pastry triggers a brawl between an American tourist and the Israeli cashier. A man misplaces his wallet shortly before a nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan. An unwilling and mostly unqualified slacker finds himself cast into the role of translator for the bitter reunion of a family torn apart years earlier by unspecified brutality.

A standout story collection, The Task of This Translator is funny, intricate, and deeply human.

Here and Now: History, Nationalism, and Realism in Modern Hebrew Fiction (Judaic Traditions in Literature, Music, and Art)
ISBN: 081563157X

Syracuse University Press. 2008

The emergence of Zionism in the late nineteenth-century
and the evolution of Zionist society in Palestine
were profoundly influenced by the Hebrew literature
of the day. As Todd Hasak-Lowy cogently argues in this
book, Hebrew authors wrote with the belief that accurately
representing Jewish society-including its history-
in their texts would both record the past and
establish its future course.
Hasak-Lowy traces the tensions between the
extraliterary-the historical, social, and political-and
the literary-the aesthetic, formal, and stylistic-in
Hebrew fiction. Focusing on canonical Hebrew texts by
S.Y. Abramovitz,Y. H. Brenner, S.Y. Agnon, and S.Yizhar,
the author establishes how their works and the works
of other Jewish authors served as the intellectual and
political leadership to the not yet fully amalgamated
nineteenth-century diaspora.

ISBN: 038552773X

Spiegel & Grau. 2008

Daniel Bloom will either fix our broken world in his imagination or destroy his real life trying.

A sniper is taking down suits and politicians—in Daniel Bloom’s head.

Bloom is the kind of guy who ends most social gatherings with an alternately raging and despairing conversation about The State of the World. And recently things have taken a turn for the worse. His marriage is on the rocks, his teenage son is becoming increasingly unknowable, and his sense of hopeless impotence has reached a stage of spiritual crisis that's no longer a matter of vapid dinner-party conversation.

So he decamps to his home office to work on his fifteenth screenplay, this time about a federal agent and a nameless assassin. The assassin is a sniper who targets the power elite: corporate chiefs who defraud their employees of billions of dollars in pensions, and political flacks who've rigged the system in their own favor. Only the federal agent isn't sure he wants to capture the sniper.

Soon Bloom realizes that his screenplay hits too close to home: He really does want these people dead, so much so that this revenge fantasy takes over his life, sending him in search of salvation in an outrageous mentor, a possibly dangerous foreign country, and, finally, his very own backyard.

33 Minutes (MAX)
ISBN: 1442445009

Aladdin. 2013

This school-based boy friendship story is “funny, fast-paced, and quite poignant” (R. J. Palacio, author of Wonder).

Sam Lewis is going to get his butt kicked in exactly thirty-three minutes. He knows this because yesterday his former best friend Morgan Sturtz told him, to his face and with three witnesses nearby, “I am totally going to kick your butt tomorrow at recess.”

All that’s standing between Sam and this unfortunate butt-kicking is the last few minutes of social studies and his lunch period. But how did Sam and Morgan end up here? How did this happen just a few months after TAMADE (The Absolutely Most Amazing Day Ever), when they became the greatest Alien Wars video game team in the history of great Alien Wars teams? And once the clock ticks down, will Morgan actually act on his threat?

Told with equal parts laugh-out-loud humor and achingly real emotional truth, 33 Minutes shows how even the best of friendships can change forever.

Me Being Me Is Exactly as Insane as You Being You
ISBN: 1442495731

Simon Pulse. 2015

A heartfelt, humorous story of a teen boy’s impulsive road trip after the shock of his lifetime—told entirely in lists!

Darren hasn’t had an easy year.

There was his parents’ divorce, which just so happened to come at the same time his older brother Nate left for college and his longtime best friend moved away. And of course there’s the whole not having a girlfriend thing.

Then one Thursday morning Darren’s dad shows up at his house at 6 a.m. with a glazed chocolate doughnut and a revelation that turns Darren’s world inside out. In full freakout mode, Darren, in a totally un-Darren move, ditches school to go visit Nate. Barely twenty-four hours at Nate’s school makes everything much better or much worse—Darren has no idea. It might somehow be both. All he knows for sure is that in addition to trying to figure out why none of his family members are who they used to be, he’s now obsessed with a strangely amazing girl who showed up out of nowhere but then totally disappeared.

Told entirely in lists, Todd Hasak-Lowy’s debut YA novel perfectly captures why having anything to do with anyone, including yourself, is:

1. painful
2. unavoidable
3. ridiculously complicated
4. possibly, hopefully the right thing after all.


33 Minutes

  • 2015 ILLINOIS READS Book
  • Me Being Me Is Exactly as Insane as You Being You

  • 2016 ILLINOIS READS Book
  • Somewhere There is Still a Sun

  • National Jewish Book Award Finalist, Young Adult Literature, Jewish Book Council, 2016

    Speaking Engagements

    Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)

    The author is available for school visits, discussions via Skype, library talks, etc. If youre interested in coordinating an author visit, contact him via email or Faye Bi at