Earlier this week, Michael Lavigne wrote about writing the “Radical Other” and wondered if a writer can take the ego out of writing. His blog posts are featured 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:
A couple of years ago I decided to lead a group of adult learners in a class on Jewish fiction. The reason was that I wanted to share a few books I loved, and I also wanted an excuse to read some I’d never got around to. It was an amazing experience, both as a teacher and as a reader.
Re-reading some favorites — like Bruno Schulz, Primo Levi and Meir Shalev — only served to deepen my attachment to them. But the writers I’d wanted to get to know — like Clarice Lispector and Joseph Roth — were a revelation.
Two or three really stand out in that category. Lispector for certain — nothing in literature is quite like her, and I urge you to read through twice before you judge. But it was Roman Gary who won my heart with his incomparable character Momo — the little Arab kid adopted by the Jewish Rosa — in a work that is simply perfection, there is no other word for it.