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Who We Are

On Being (and Not Being) a Jewish American Writer

This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.

Description

This unprecedented collection brings together the major Jewish American writers of the past fifty years as they examine issues of identity and how they’ve made their work respond.

E.L. Doctorow questions the very notion of the Jewish American writer, insisting that all great writing is secular and universal. Allegra Goodman embraces the categorization, arguing that it immediately binds her to her readers. Dara Horn, among the youngest of these writers, describes the tendency of Jewish writers to focus on anti-Semitism and advocates a more creative and positive way of telling the Jewish story. Thane Rosenbaum explains that as a child of Holocaust survivors, he was driven to write in an attempt to reimagine the tragic endings in Jewish history.

Here are the stories of how these writers became who they are: Saul Bellow on his adolescence in Chicago, Grace Paley on her early love of Romantic poetry, Chaim Potok on being transformed by the work of Evelyn Waugh. Here, too, are Philip Roth, Cynthia Ozick, Erica Jong, Jonathon Rosen, Tova Mirvis, Pearl Abraham, Alan Lelchuk, Rebecca Goldstein, Nessa Rapoport, and many more.

Spanning three generations of Jewish writing in America, these essays — by turns nostalgic, comic, moving, and deeply provocative- constitute an invaluable investigation into the thinking and the work of some of America’s most important writers.

From the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

May 09, 2005 – The recent death of Saul Bellow casts an unintended perspective on this anthology. Bellow is the first writer in it, and younger writers, such as Jonathan Rosen, acknowledge their debt to him. Moreover, his sidestepping of the Jewish literary question with the semi-dismissive "I am a Jew, and I have written some books" becomes a touchstone for many of the other 28 authors to agree with or reject. The large cast, spanning several generations, creates a distinct layering effect: Philip Roth reflects on the virulent reaction against his early short stories; later, Binnie Kirshenbaum admits that Goodbye, Columbus was the first book that "got under my skin." The solemnity of the debate over identity is frequently lightened by humor. Max Apple splits his inner self into a squabbling duo, the assimilationist Max and the hyper-Yiddish Mottele, while Art Spiegelman contributes a two-page cartoon about being "just another baby-boom boy" overwhelmed by memory. Women are particularly well represented in the youngest generation, including Lara Vapnyar, Tova Mirvis and Yael Goldstein. As the argument over what constitutes authentic Jewish fiction continues to be revisited (most recently by Wendy Shalit in the New York Times Book Review), these thoughtful essays take on added relevance.
Who We Are
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  • $5.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Literary Criticism
  • Published: May 10, 2005
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 368 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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