“I’m an American, I’m a Jew, and I write for all men. A novelist has to, or he’s built himself a cage. I write about Jews, when I write about Jews, because they set my imagination going. I know something about their history, the quality of their experience and belief, and of their literature, though not as much as I would like. Like many writers I’m influenced especially by the Bible, both Testaments. I respond in particular to the East European immigrants of my father’s and mother’s generation; many of them were Jews of the Pale as described by the classic Yiddish writers. And of course I’ve been deeply moved by the Jews of the concentration camps, and the refugees wandering from nowhere to nowhere. I’m concerned about Israel. Nevertheless, Jews like rabbis Kahane and Korff set my teeth on edge. Sometimes I make characters Jewish because I think I will understand them better as people, not because I am out to prove anything. That’s a qualification. Still another is that I know that, as a writer, I’ve been influenced by Hawthorne, James, Mark Twain, Hemingway, more than I have been by Sholem Aleichem and I. L. Peretz, whom I read with pleasure. Of course I admire and have been moved by other writers, Dostoyevsky and Chekhov, for instance, but the point I’m making is that I was born in America and respond, in American life, to more than Jewish experience. I wrote for those who read.”
Source: Bernard Malamud’s 1974 “Art of Fiction” interview in The Paris Review. (Thanks to Kyle Minor for bringing this to my attention on Twitter this past weekend, which marked the 100th anniversary of Malamud’s birth.)
“Fig Tree Books is a new publishing house currently seeking fiction manuscripts that engage with the American Jewish experience (AJE). Fig Tree Books has responded to the need for a publisher to champion emerging and unique voices and created a place where writers about the AJE can launch their work into the world with visible celebration and support. Fig Tree Books is passionate about discovering new voices as well as expanding the audience for established writers. Although a small press, FTB has the resources to offer competitive advances, a variety of publishing formats, and a comprehensive marketing plan for authors. All books will be published in print and e-format, backed by a major distributor. FTB’s mission is to add to the rich tradition of literary American fiction that appeals to a major commercial market.
The senior editor, Michelle Caplan, is actively seeking both new and establishing talent and will consider work from everyone, including those with no prior credits. She is in the process of trying to get the word out about Fig Tree Books and eager to recruit manuscripts and authors that may fit their model. She would love to provide more details about Fig Tree Books to any interested writers or agents with original materials or out-of-print classics on the AJE. You can contact her directly: MCaplan(at)FigTreeBooks(dot)net. Please take a look at their website www.FigTreeBooks.net, which will give you a good overview of who they are and their mission. You can find the link for submission guidelines on their home page.”
Earlier this year, I published an article listing five “Jewish books” scheduled for publication in 2014 that I was already especially eager to read. Molly Antopol‘s The UnAmericans was one of those titles. As I wrote at the time: “I’m not the only one with high expectations for this debut collection of short stories. Anointed by the National Book Foundation as one of its ‘5 Under 35′ honorees, Antopol and her book (which W.W. Norton will release in February) have received plenty of pre-publication buzz. “My stories move from McCarthy-era Los Angeles to modern-day Jerusalem to communist Prague,” Antopol has said in an interview, adding that many of the stories were inspired by her family history.
Well, I purchased a copy for my Kindle and began reading. And I was just as impressed as I expected to be. Molly and I connected online, and I asked her if she’d be willing to answer a few questions for My Machberet. Continue reading ›