Ned Beauman is the author of “Boxer, Beetle.” It was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and the Desmond Elliott Prize upon its initial UK release last year, and has recently been praised by the New York Times as “funny, raw and stylish.” His posts are being featured this week on The Arty Semite courtesy of the Jewish Book Council and My Jewish Learning’s Author Blog Series. For more information on the series, please visit:
In 1893 the German writer Oscar Panizza published a story called “The Operated Jew,” a synopsis of which reads like a racially charged David Cronenberg film: A young Jewish doctor submits to a serious of painful surgical procedures to conceal his heritage, culminating with a blood transfusion from pure Ayran virgins, but just before his wedding to a blonde German woman, the operations lose their hold and he melts into a puddle on the floor. That same decade, the Zionist Theodor Herzl began using the term “anti-Semite of Jewish origin,” which would soon be simplified to ‘self-hating Jew.’
These days you don’t very often hear ‘self-hating Jew’ from level-headed people, but to a novelist, a self-hating anything is inherently juicy material, and “The Operated Jew,” if it had been written by a Jewish author, would probably now be a major text in Jewish Studies.