Arts & Culture


Emigrés Are Forming Decidedly Secular Identities; The Ancestral Faith, With a Side of Salami

By Nathaniel Popper

This is the final installment in a three-part series on the challenges faced in the United States by immigrants from the former Soviet Union.A half an hour before a late-season minor league baseball game at Keyspan Park, in the Coney Island section of Brooklyn, a series of Russian performers took the field to dance and sing for the fewRead More


Ladies and Gentlemen, The Once and Future Yiddish Language

By Zackary Sholem Berger

Words on Fire: The Unfinished Story of Yiddish By Dovid Katz Basic Books, 430 pages, $26.95. ———Given the sentimentality of much recent writing on the subject, American Jews might be forgiven for believing that no one with a critical eye, or without sepia-colored glasses, possibly could write an entire book about Yiddish — much less aRead More


FALL BOOKS

By Josh Lambert

The Final Solution: A Story of Detection By Michael Chabon. Fourth Estate/HarperCollins, 144 pages, $16.95. —–Depending on their authors’ predilections, so-called “literary” novels are often unsettling, disturbing, enlightening or tragicomic. They are not, in the main, much fun. Fun is left to hacks, those genre writers who churn outRead More


A Dutch Author Relishes the Spectacle

By Allison Schachter

Story of My Baldness By Marek van der Jagt

Other Press, 264 pages, $22.

Phantom Pain By Arnon Grunberg Other Press, 286 pages, $22. ——In Arnon Grunberg’s novel “Story of My Baldness,” which has just been released in English translation, the Dutch novelist adopted a new literary persona: Marek van der Jagt, as both theRead More


FALL BOOKS

By Ilan Stavans

Letters 1928-1946: Isaiah Berlin Edited by Henry Hardy Cambridge University Press, 755 pages, $40. ——-A couple of years ago, while visiting the offices of The Atlantic Monthly, I commented on my admiration of Isaiah Berlin to a friend of mine, Cullen Murphy, the magazine’s executive editor. Few modern thinkers strike me as beingRead More


FALL BOOKS

By Ralph Seliger

A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse of America’s Intelligence Agencies By James Bamford Doubleday, 420 pages, $26.95. * * *This past August, the news broke of an FBI probe into a possible leak to Israel of classified intelligence information via the pro-Israel lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. The leak wasRead More


Gleanings

One in a series of occasional excerpts from books that catch our eye. The following is an excerpt from “Ballad of the Whiskey Robber: A True Story of Bank Heists, Ice Hockey, Transylvanian Pelt-Smuggling, Moonlighting Detectives, and Broken Hearts,” by Julian Rubinstein (Little, Brown). In it, Rubinstein offers a hilarious account of crimeRead More


FALL BOOKS

By Lev Raphael

Shanda: The Making and Breaking of a Self-Loathing Jew By Neal Karlen Touchstone, 224 pages, $23. ———Self-hatred can be fun — for other people, that is.That’s what Neal Karlen learned in college. He could use his profound Jewish self-loathing as a way of attracting mass quantities of shiksas at parties. WhileRead More


FALL BOOKS

By Esther Schor

Kafka By Nicholas Murray Yale University Press, 440 pages, $30. ——–Kafka may have died childless, but Kafka’s biography is a series of begats, with each generation turning on its elders. In the beginning was Max Brod’s Judaic saint, a rapt visionary; the visionary Kafka begat the ironical Kafka of the absurdists and existentialists;Read More


An Older Mother

By Sandra Steuer Cohen

In this week’s portion, we read of Sarah, who, it is said, gave birth to her first child, Isaac, at age 90. I have often thought of Sarah, who waited endlessly for this miracle of childbirth, during my own childless years — and even more so after I finally did give birth later in life. My fourth and last child was born to me at age 48, afterRead More





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