Susan Miron

Being Black and Jewish in America

“I usually introduce myself as ‘Robin Washington, I’m black and a Jew.’ I want to put my identity in your face; I want you to deal immediately with who I am,” grinned the 37-year-old independent filmmaker and managing editor of Boston’s African-American weekly Bay State Banner. Mr. Washington, who proudly displayed “the first kente cloth kippah,” just sewn by his wife, was the first of three speakers at a symposium “On Being Both Black and Jewish” held at Brandeis University last week.

Heeding the Call That Haunts

Tattoo for a Slave By Hortense Calisher

Harcourt, 336 pages, $24.

‘Your grandmother never kept slaves.”…………With these words spoken to a young, naive Hortense Calisher by her father, born the seventh child of eight in 1861 in Richmond, Va., this unusual book opens. A “tattoo” can be a bugle call, a drum roll

Fatalism and Humor in Israeli Fiction

Uncle Peretz Takes Off: Short Stories By Yaakov Shabtai Translated From the Hebrew by Dalia Bilu

Overlook Duckworth, 239 pages, $24.95. * * *|The Israeli author Yaakov Shabtai, who died in 1981, wrote several morbidly memorable first sentences. “Goldman’s father died on the first of April, whereas Goldman himself committed suicide on

A Portrait of a Musical Prodigy That Rings True

The Song of Names By Norman Lebrecht Anchor, 320 pages, $14. * * *|Few writers know more about the dark, sometimes scandalous workings of the music business than Norman Lebrecht, the author of “The Maestro Myth: Great Conductors in Pursuit of Power” (Simon & Schuster, 1991) and the illuminating “Who Killed Classical Music?: Maestros,

The Liberated Author

The Liberated Bride By A.B. Yehoshua Harcourt, 568 pages, $27. * * *|From the beginning of his career, the Israeli novelist A.B. Yehoshua has examined the complex relationship between Israeli Jews and Arabs, most notably in his 1964 novella, “Facing the Forests,” and his early novel, “The Lover,” set in Israel after the l973 war.

A Short Story Collection Suffused With Jewish Lore and Driven by Unforgettable Characters

An Hour in Paradise: Stories By Joan Leegant Norton, 223 pages, $23.95. * * *|People imagine that as a book critic I read so much that there must be dozens of books I enjoy each year. But the truth is, books about which I am totally enthusiastic appear only every few years. Joan Leegant’s terrific first book of stories, “An Hour in

Murder and Intrigue in Mandate Palestine

A Palestine Affair By Jonathan Wilson Pantheon Books, 272 pages, $23 * * *|Jonathan Wilson’s new novel, “A Palestine Affair,” opens, quite spectacularly, as Mark Bloomberg, a painter, and his gentile American wife, Joyce, having just made love in their new Jerusalem home, go outside to their garden. A softly moaning, bleeding man in Arab

The Science of Torah-Chanting

Chanting the Hebrew Bible: The Art of Cantillation By Joshua R. Jacobson Jewish Publication Society, 965 pages, $75. * * *|Reviewing Joshua Jacobson’s encyclopedic new “Chanting the Hebrew Bible” is akin to summarizing the Torah while standing on one foot. Cantillation — which comes from the Latin cantare, to sing –– is a system