JRB | Fiction

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

Introduction

 

Upon Such Sacrifices: King Lear and the Binding of Isaac

How Shakespeare helps us think about the akedah, and vice versa.

 

Before the Big Bang

Cosmologist Lawrence Krauss is quite sure he knows how the universe began. Novelist Alan Lightman takes a wild narrative guess. But where does the Kabbalah stand?

 

Joseph Roth: Grieving for a Lost Empire

Always in flight, one of the world’s permanent transients, Joseph Roth (1894–1939) was a one-man diaspora. A drunk and a fantasist, he was also a marvelous writer whose work was bedizened with metaphor, laced with simile.

 

Cynthia Ozick: Or, Immortality

Ozick is as marvelously demanding, harrumphing, and uncompromising as she has always been.

 

Live Wire

Bellow’s not so innocent knock in The Adventures of Augie March is generally taken as the moment when Jews barged into American literature without apology.

 

The Jewbird

It is in his stories, rather than his novels, that Malamud emerged as a unique writer. A new series brings new exposure to both.

 

The Hunter

James Salter has been justly celebrated as a composer of gorgeous prose, and his new late-life novel All That Is confirms his reputation as a writer’s writer. How much of his artistic vision is predicated on being James Salter rather than James Horowitz?

 

Brave New Golems

As monsters go, golems are pretty boring. Mute, crudely fashioned household servants and protectors, in essence they’re not much different from the brooms in the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” story.

 

Coming with a Lampoon

Jacobson is a world master of the art of disturbing comedy and each new work of his advances the genre—his latest one by a giant step.

 

Who Owns Margot?

What if Anne Frank’s sister had survived Bergen-Belsen? Interesting, but . . .

 

Appelfeld in Bloom

Israeli author Aharon Applefeld sifts through memories to understand the traumas of his past.

 

The Rebbe and the Yak

What do you do when your ancestor appears to you in a dream saying that he is trapped inside the body of a Tibetan yak? If you’re the Ustiler Rebbe in Haim Be’er’s new novel, you go to Tibet to find him, of course.

 

Distant Cousins

None of these four novels by American Jewish writers is fully at home in Israel—they’re more like Mars orbiters than rovers.

Suggested Reading

Manufacturing Falsehoods

Manufacturing Falsehoods

Jeffrey Herf

An immense echo-chamber has been built, and the line is always the same: Israel is not allowed to be a country like any other.

A Golem in Argentina

A Golem in Argentina

Henry Gonshak

When an indigenous Argentine woman falls in love with a golem, her grandmother creates a love potion to win the golem’s (perhaps non-existent?) heart. What could possibly go wrong?

In Memory of Judah Maccabee

In Memory of Judah Maccabee

Allan Arkush

That Judah, the great victor of the Hanukkah story, ultimately died fighting the Seleucids is something that surprisingly few Jews know. And were the Maccabees actually underdogs?