‘Stranger Things’ actor Brett Gelman’s signing canceled at Book Soup due to safety concerns

Book Soup has a performance March 27 from Stranger things actor and author Brett Gelman.

The store claimed that escalating threats “became a security risk that we were not prepared to take.” The store has hosted many controversial authors over the years and has rarely canceled, but said “the current charged environment” forced it to do so.

Gelman has spoken out about his support for Israel in the aftermath of October 7, but claims the cancellations of his book tour were due to his emphasis on his “Jewish identity.”

Gelman’s book, The Terrifying Realm of the Possible: Nearly True Storiesis not overtly political and in the vein of Philip Roth Portnoy’s complaint. The anthology weaves together five interconnected short stories, told from the perspectives of five different Jewish characters. Gelman describes it as a “return to the literature I loved and felt wasn’t represented – dark Jewish humor.” The book will be published on March 19.

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

The book’s publisher, Dey Street, an imprint of HarperCollins, repeated the Book Soup story about the LA cancellation. “The store has seen an increase in angry phone calls and emails. Although the store planned to hire additional security and is aware that Brett also planned to bring his own security, Book Soup does not feel they can keep Brett, their staff and visitors safe.

Gelman told the Los Angeles website: “It’s hurtful on the level that it’s happening to my book, but it’s also traumatic in terms of: What is my position in the world? The fact that they are pulling out, for whatever reason, because they are allowing this to happen, is something I never thought I would ever experience. I never thought I would be discriminated against so aggressively for being Jewish.”

He added that threats against his performance are not serious enough to cancel his appearance.

“These are the screams of bullies,” he said. “Maybe they’re afraid that a mob will, you know, march out and maybe throw a garbage can through the window, but I said that wouldn’t happen. I would provide enough security to make sure this didn’t happen.”

Gelman continues: “I support Israel, but that does not mean I celebrate the deaths of innocent Palestinians. It hurts me that as a Jew I have been conditioned to think that I have to apologize for being a Jew, for standing up for the rights of my people and for the humanity of my people,” Gelman said. “It’s a power grab. We are dehumanized. We are being scapegoated from all sides. We are the most gaslit people of all time.”

Gelman is reportedly looking for other locations in Los Angeles.

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

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