Books


An Eloquent Meditation on Memory

By Ranen Omer-Sherman

Aharon Appelfeld has earned an esteemed, if lonely, reputation for himself as Israel’s writer of the Nazi and pre-Nazi era. This landscape and its immediate aftermath form his near-exclusive literary topography. As a result, he is more often compared to Central European Jewish writers such as Franz Kafka than to Israeli writers of his generation. Within the limitations of this milieu though, he has been astonishingly prolific. His more than 30 works of fiction and nonfiction, including the classic early work “Badenheim 1939” and a late powerful memoir, “The Story of a Life” (2006), have brought him justifiable acclaim for the searing language he uses to explore the effects of absence, silence, and the scars of memory.Read More


The Beaten Cannoneer

By Joshua Cohen

Literary criticism is literature that discusses other literature, situating whatever book or poem historically, while at the same time, relating the literary work to the extraliterary: to the other arts, or to the world in general. Book reviewing is much the same as criticism except shorter, and the function it serves is often as much literary as one of consumer guidance: I give Kerouac three stars, or four, or three-and-a-half; William Burroughs’s new novel about nude dining gets two thumbs up, “a must-read.”Read More


A Murder Mystery In Little Palestine Brings Middle East to America

By Amy Klein

When Omar Yussef arrives in Little Palestine – the Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, neighborhood populated by Palestinian-Americans — the aging schoolteacher first finds a headless dead body in his son’s apartment, then watches his son get arrested by an overzealous Palestinian-American policeman, all the while dealing with internecine Arab politics at the United Nations, where he is supposed to speak when the Palestinian president arrives.Read More


‘Perfidious Albion’

By Keith Kahn-Harris

A monumental study of English antisemitism proves an astonishing and controversial achievement.Read More


A 21st-Century Schlemiel

By Shoshana Olidort

He is the anti-hero of the American Jewish novel: bright, only not bright enough; more dreamy than driven, and possessed by insatiable, often misappropriated desires. He does not see himself as beholden to his Jewishness, but neither can he escape it. He was Portnoy and Herzog and the male characters in Leonard Michaels’s fiction. In this latest incarnation he is an everyman named Milo Burke, the hero of Sam Lipsyte’s new novel, “The Ask,” a dark comedy about life in 21st-century America.Read More


A Plot Against America: A Jewish Writer’s Forgotten ‘Future History’ Of a Nazi Takeover

By Matthew Rovner

Arch Oboler’s “This Precious Freedom” (1942) is the first film ever made about a Nazi takeover of the United States. It was suppressed by its producer, an automaking company better known today for financial than moral bankruptcy: General Motors Corp.Read More


An Actor Exits

By Steven G. Kellman

Imminence of the end concentrates the craft. German critics employ the term Altersstill — late style — to designate the tendency of such aging masters as Poussin, Beethoven and Beckett to focus their energies on essentials. Once the enfant terrible of American Jewish literature, Philip Roth (Long may he live!) is now 76, and in “Everyman” (2006), “Exit Ghost” (2007) and “Indignation” (2008), the virtuoso of boisterous provocations has taken on the urgent task of confronting mortality. “The Humbling” extends that project.Read More


On Becoming a ‘Beaner’: A Mexican American Story

By Ilan Stavans

‘Mexicans are the scum of the earth,” a student of mine said after being asked to describe the status of the immigrants at her South Carolina high school.Read More


Found in Portugal: World Famous Jewish-American Novelist

By Jessica Siegel

Though he still maintains his accent and caffeinated New York pulse, Richard Zimler is far better known in Portugal, Turkey, Brazil, France and England than in the United States. He may be the world’s most famous unknown living American Jewish writer.Read More


Toothy in Gotham

By Joshua Cohen

‘Chronic City” initially seemed an important and pleasurable novel to review, just as it must have initially seemed, to Jonathan Lethem, an important and pleasurable novel to write. The ideal reviewer, as if a character in science fiction, relives the writer’s experience word by word, sentence by sentence. The reviewer becomes, in a sense, the author’s projection or double, questioning choices of plot, wording and punctuation, and revising paragraphs and pages, until what results is an alternate book: Like it or not, you’re reading my own version of “Chronic City” now. (This is apropos of nothing much. But it seemed important and pleasurable enough at the beginning.)Read More





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