Books


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


Immortal Bloodsucking Opportunists

By Laura Hodes

Anne Rice declared in 2005 in the Author’s Note to her novel “Christ the Lord” that her return to Catholicism meant she would no longer “write anything that wasn’t for Christ.” She professed no more vampires, since they reflected a “world that didn’t include redemption.” In her new novel, “Angel Time: The Songs of the Seraphim,” then, Rice creates a new hero, one who seeks redemption with the divine aid of an angel and explores another idea from that same Author’s Note: that the sheer miraculousness of Jewish survival is proof to her of God.Read More


Six Takes on God

By Gordon Haber

Regular readers of the book review pages (or even of books) are no doubt familiar with the so-called New Atheists — Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, in order of increasing shrillness — and how they’ve been raising hackles with their screeds. After reading their books last year, I could see why people were ticked off. The New Atheists like to conflate any kind of religion with extremism, as if all believers were boneheaded fundamentalists. Similarly, they rail against a cruel, straw-man God, as if the fundamentalist projection of brutality onto the Creator is the only way to conceive of Him.Read More


Shrink And Grow

By Susan Shapiro

With many shrinks away between now and the end of the summer, Susan Shapiro, the author of the new novel “Speed Shrinking” (St. Martin’s Press) suggests abandoned patients get their fill of talk therapy from these works of fiction.Read More


La Mort Que Je Conviens

By Joshua Cohen

Ghérasim Luca was born in 1913 in Bucharest and, as a Jew and intellectuel, spoke Yiddish, Romanian, German and French, the last being the language of his books. A dissolute late adolescence found Luca traveling often through Paris, where he became interested in the movement called Surrealism. He spent the war hiding in Romania, which hated its Jews but occasionally sheltered them, too.Read More


Sting Like a Bee: Ali of the Typewriter

By Anthony Weiss

One of the last pieces A.J. Liebling ever wrote was about an up-and-coming boxer and versifier named Cassius Clay. Liebling wasn’t entirely sold on the egotistical young fighter, but he was clearly struck by Clay’s magnetism and the excitement he brought to the ring, and he sensed Clay’s promise.Read More


Receiving the Original Text Messages

By Debra Nussbaum Cohen

As I sat next to Rabbi Dan Ehrenkrantz at a recent bar mitzvah reception, our chat turned to the Amazon Kindle. Ehrenkrantz, who is president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, is considering getting one.Read More


The Rise and Rise of Haredi Thrillers

By Benjamin Weiner

‘Elazar had the sensation of having left the secure boundaries of the world he knew,” reads an ominous sentence in the middle of Chaim Eliav’s “The Runaway” “and entered a strange new one — a dangerous world.” Like Cary Grant or Jimmy Stewart in a Hitchcock thriller, the protagonist has been accidentally wrenched out of everyday life and thrust into an international imbroglio. But unlike Grant or Stewart, this improbable hero wears peyes. Eliav’s novel is a prime example of a new literary genre that has been blossoming, modestly, over the past decade: the Haredi potboiler.Read More


Disobedience As An Article of Faith

By Aryeh Kosman

Quoting Yeats’s famous image of a center that cannot hold and the anarchy that is thereby loosed upon the world, Rabbi Harold Schulweis begins the final chapter of his short book “Conscience” by asking, “Who, during such unstable times as ours, can quarrel with the call for heightening obedience to authority?” What’s refreshing about “Conscience” is that Schulweis in fact does quarrel with this call. His book is a brief for, if anything, disobedience.Read More


Words in Flux

The world of American Jewish letters isn’t what it used to be, and it’s changing in fascinating, manifold and, in many cases, encouraging ways.Read More





Find us on Facebook!
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.