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‘Stranger Things’ Actor Brett Gelman’s Signing Canceled At Book Soup Over Safety Concerns

Book Soup has canceled a March 27 appearance by Stranger Things actor and author Brett Gelman.

The store claimed that escalating threats “became a safety risk we were not willing to take.” The store has hosted many controversial authors over the years and has rarely canceled, but said “the current charged environment” forced its hand.

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Gelman has been outspoken in his support of Israel in the wake of Oct. 7, but claims the cancellations on his book tour were because of his emphasis on his “Jewish identity.”

Gelman’s book, The Terrifying Realm of the Possible: Nearly True Stories, is not overtly political and in the vein of Philip Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint. The anthology weaves five interconnected short stories told through the perspective of five different Jewish characters. Gelman describes it as a “return to the literature that I loved and that I felt wasn’t being represented — dark Jewish humor.” The book is scheduled for release March 19.

His appearances were also canceled at Book Passage in San Francisco and The Book Stall in Winnetka, Illinois, and he has an upcoming date in New York on March 19 at Town Hall canceled.

The book’s publishing house, Dey Street, an imprint of HarperCollins, echoed the Book Soup story on the L.A. cancellation. “The store has seen an uptick in angry calls and emails. Although the store had planned to hire additional security and is aware that Brett was planning to bring his own security too, Book Soup does not feel like they can keep Brett, their staff, and attendees safe.”

Gelman told the Los Angeles website, “It’s hurtful on the level of it happening to my book, but it’s also traumatic in terms of like, what is my standing in the world? The fact that they are backing down for whatever reason they are allowing this to happen is something that I never thought I would ever experience. I never thought that I would be discriminated against in such an aggressive way because of the fact that I’m Jewish.”

He added that threats against his appearance aren’t serious enough to cancel his appearance.

“These are the screams of bullies,” he said. “Maybe they’re worried that a gang is going to, you know, march outside and maybe throw a trash can through the window, but I had said that was not going to happen. I was going to provide enough security to make sure that wasn’t going to happen.”

Gelman continues: “I support Israel, but that does not mean that I celebrate the death of innocent Palestinians. It kills me that as a Jew, I’m conditioned to think that I need to apologize for being a Jew, for advocating for my people’s rights for my people’s humanity,” says Gelman. “It’s a power grab. We’re being dehumanized. We’re being scapegoated on all sides. We are the most gaslit people of all time.”

Gelman is reportedly looking qt other venues in Los Angeles.

A Los Angeles book event in early February featuring Moshe Kasher and Mayim Bialik was also disrupted by protesters, allegedly because of Bialik’s commentary on the Israel/Hamas war.

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