A.B. Yehoshua, long recognized as one of Israel's best novelists, has in recent years also emerged as one of its most prominent scolds.
The Jewish Journal's senior writer, Brad A. Greenberg, asks Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon about his "frozen chosen" hit "The Yiddish Policemen's Union," about being called an anti-Semite and about being comfortable as a geek
So we return, with the inevitability of quarrels in a shul, to the question posed at the outset: what makes a Jewish writer? I promised to avoid it, but there is a Wittgensteinian way out (and by the way, was he a Jewish philosopher?) A Jewish writer is someone whom we choose to call a "Jewish" writer. Would we rather have a clear category or fecundity and individuality of expression? Uniformity of commitment or divergence? The dilemma of modern Jewish writing is the same as that which bedevils modern Judaism: Where one can be everything, how likely is it that in the end, bristling with talent and showered with opportunity, one will come to nothing?
Interview with novelist Michael Chabon.
Interview with author Charlotte Mendelson about her novel "When We Were Bad".
A new bookshelf, overflowing with volumes, testifies to Gady Levy's latest and perhaps most ambitious endeavor: the Celebration of Jewish Books, which begins on Monday and extends through an all-day festival on Sunday. The celebration will offer lectures and signings with 40 authors -- including big names, such as Larry King, Michael Chabon, Kirk Douglas and Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket) -- plus music and dance performances, food and a thousand titles for sale, provided by Borders and the Hebrew-language bookseller Steimatzky.
In the living room of novelist Merrill Joan Gerber's home in Sierra Madre is a harpsichord that is most often played by her husband, a retired Pasadena City College history professor. The presence of this musical instrument is fitting, because music plays a major role in Gerber's latest book, "The Victory Gardens of Brooklyn." At one point in "Victory Gardens," Gerber's 27th book, the central character, Musetta, a pianist and stand-in for Gerber's own mother, ponders the magic of music. It "made her feel she was flying outside over the treetops, over the river, away past Brooklyn, past the cemeteries and the houses and the endless stores of dead chickens and glassy-eyed fish."
For this writer, at a time when literary books no longer hold the general culture in thrall and in a city where many sit alone in rooms wondering, in the words of E.M. Forster, "how to connect," it is reassuring to read a blog where someone cares about literature and those novels that may never make the best-seller lists.
Jet lag launched Haggai Carmon into his career as an author. The international lawyer found himself in a small, unheated hotel room in a remote country he won't identify. He was on U.S. government assignment, collecting intelligence on a violent criminal organization, but his security cover had been blown, and he was advised by Interpol not to leave his hotel room.Tired, but too scared to sleep, Carmon sat at a child-sized desk with his laptop computer and spun 100 pages of a thriller based on, but disguising, his experiences. Those first 100 pages became the basis for "Triple Identity," the first in a series of three thrillers featuring Dan Gordon, a lawyer and former Mossad agent working for the U.S. Department of Justice.
He has long been known abroad as an Israeli novelist. But this weekend, David Grossman put fiction aside to become the voice of an Israel that is bruised, confused and yearning to see the horizon beyond the perennial war clouds.
When Imre Kertesz was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 2002, few Americans had read the work of the Hungarian novelist, the first survivor of the concentration camps to be awarded the literary prize. Even in his own country, his works were not well known; his subject, largely the Holocaust, was not popular.
Leon Uris, the novelist and screenwriter whose best-known works are "Exodus," a popular novel about Jews trying to establish modern Israel, and "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral," perhaps the archetypal Hollywood Western, died June 21 at his home on Shelter Island, N.Y. He was 78.
Dara Horn wrote an exuberant scene in her stunning debut novel, "In the Image," upon returning to her dreary garret flat during a year abroad in 1999. "I'd been to this dismal British market in which an entire aisle was devoted to butter and fats," the ebullient Horn, 25, said animatedly. "I recall a product called 'beef drippings.' The produce was wilting. All the milk was expired yesterday.Â I was very homesick."
Chaim Potok was a novelist who paved the way for a younger generation of religious American Jewish writers -- and a Jewish scholar who worked tirelessly to bring Jews and Judaism closer together.
In the wake of the Littleton shooting tragedy, a nation of finger-pointers has rounded up the usual suspects: media violence, guns, video games, the Internet. But for Jonathan Kellerman, this laundry list -- inevitably brought out in the wake of such violence -- omits one major source of responsibility: the perpetrators. "We'll blame society," says an unsurprised Kellerman. "And we'll forget about it until the next tragedy."
Kellerman is not being cynical or prophetic, just reflective.
When you write a book-length study of a living author lots of things can happen; most of them are bad.
"You've missed a nuance here, a shading there," some will point out, in the iciest language possible, while others go straight to the jugular and angrily insist that you don't know beans about their work.
Joseph Heller, who passed away Dec. 13 at the age of 76, was a wonderful exception.