Writer. Reader. Reviewer. Resource Maven.

On “Holocaust Fiction”

cover19_240x3281ruled46In the new (fall) issue of the Jewish Review of Books, I respond to a piece published in the summer issue.

My response begins:

“As an avid reader of novels and short stories, and as the author of a story collection myself, I am always pleased to see fiction discussed within the JRB’s pages. But in the case of Amy Newman Smith’s “Killer Backdrop” (Summer 2014), my initial pleasure was tempered by an increasing sense of discomfort.

In part, the trouble stemmed from my difficulty understanding the exact focus of Ms. Smith’s opprobrium. Does she object to all “new works of Holocaust fiction” because they are not nonfiction? Fair enough. Some people don’t ascribe any value to Holocaust-related fiction; I am not among them. But are there any examples of Holocaust-related fiction that might meet with Ms. Smith’s approval? Novels by the late ArnoŠt Lustig? Cynthia Ozick’s now-classic “The Shawl”?”

You can find the rest of my response–plus the original article and Amy Newman Smith’s response-to-my-response–on the JRB website.

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Words of the Week

“Israelis can listen to the views of dissenters. They are used to it. But they also want to trust that their dissenters are still a part of the family.”
Shmuel Rosner, “Who Killed the Israeli Left?” (The New York Times)

“The presumption that Jews must choose between liberalism and Zionism—and always had to—turns each into a kind of historical cartoon. Zionism is not just tribal primacy, and liberalism is not just an empathy for history’s dispossessed.”
Bernard Avishai, “Is Liberal Zionism Impossible?” (The New Yorker)

“Something feels different now.”
Marjorie Ingall, “Anxiously Sending Little Jews to School” (Tablet) Continue reading ›

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Pre-Shabbat Jewish Literary Links

Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen

Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen

Every Friday morning My Machberet presents an assortment of Jewish-interest links, primarily of the literary variety.

  • Coming in 2016: a new book by Jeffrey Goldberg, on “the Middle East through the prism of President Obama’s years in power.”
  • On my more immediate TBR list: Stuart Rojstaczer’s The Mathematician’s Shiva. According to this Jewlicious post, it’s a novel that “mixes Jewish family life, comedy, academia, mystery, greed, chaos shiva, lust and math.”
  • Matthue Roth on Heinrich Heine’s “love song to cholent.”
  • On the Moment blog, Linda Tucker reviews Rabbi David Wolpe’s new book on the biblical David.
  • If you still don’t have enough books on your own TBR list, you’ll find a few more in Sandee Brawarsky’s fall books preview for The Jewish Week. (Coming soon: a similar overview piece by yours truly, elsewhere. Stay tuned!)
  • Shabbat shalom.

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    Words of the Week

    “But forgive us if we experience a special kind of grief for the Jewish kid from Miami, who played rugby and video games and tweeted about American basketball and risked his life to tell an important story.”
    “Steven Sotloff Was Jewish,” editorial in The Forward

    “We only wish your response and your voice against this crime and the crime Hamas has committed against their own people.”
    “Letter by Parents of Daniel Tregerman to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.”

    “Vigilance means speaking out whenever protests devolve into the classic rhetoric and symbolism of Jew hatred: swastikas, blood libels, conspiracy theories. We must reject depictions of Israel as a spearhead of Western colonialism — a clash between ‘European’ and ‘brown’ people — and explain how that narrative depends on a stereotypical and caricatured image of the ‘Jew’ that ignores the diverse reality of Israel (which includes, not coincidentally, brown and black people who were either thrown out of or made miserable in a wide range of non-European, ‘post-colonial’ countries). And we need to keep reminding people that the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement is not anti-Semitic because it seeks justice for the Palestinians, but because it sees no place for the Jewish state or the Jews who live there.”
    “Fight Anti-Semitism, Embrace Zionism,” by Andrew Silow-Carroll (New Jersey Jewish News) Continue reading ›

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    Pre-Shabbat Jewish Literary Links

    Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen

    Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen

    Every Friday morning My Machberet presents an assortment of Jewish-interest links, primarily of the literary variety.

  • New poetry: “Almost Like the Blues,” by Leonard Cohen, and “Stolpersteine,” by Rachel Unkefer.
  • The new issue of JewishFiction.Net features work by Steve Stern, Joan Leegant, David Bezmozgis, and many more.
  • The Jewish Week‘s Well Versed blog spotlights The Jerusalem Lover, a novella by Shira Dicker that is described as “a prescient and courageous look at the ongoing battle between Israel’s staunch defenders and her harsh critics.”
  • In which D.G. Myers reverses the famous Tolstoy line–“unhappy families are more alike than happy families”–with reference to Joshua Henkin’s The World Without You (and to his own circumstances).
  • On my weekend agenda: listening to the first episode of “Israel Story,” which is being billed as an Israeli version of “This American Life.”
  • Shabbat shalom.

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