Category Archives: Novel

Identity and the British-Jewish novel

American Jewish writers flourish, but Englishness and Jewishness seem mutually contradictory. Read the article byLINDA GRANT

In 1937 the teenaged Irving Howe, future literary critic, excitedly unwrapped the very first edition of Partisan Review and read the short story “In Dreams Begin Responsibilities” by Delmore Schwartz, written a couple of years earlier over a July weekend when Schwartz was 21. The story is about a young man who goes into a cinema and sees on the screen the unfolding images of his own parents’ courtship, including a trip to Coney Island culminating in a marriage proposal, which causes the narrator to rise from his seat and deliver one of the funniest pay-offs in literature.


The Yid

Please be offended–be offended by the title, be offended by the behaviour of the characters, by the way the author plays with history, with the literary history of Russia and Yiddish culture, but be really offended by the way Stalin treated so many of the citizens of the Soviet Union.  If you are the ending will satisfy you, and bring a fantstical catharsis to the way you think about Uncle Joe the next time you think about him.
This is a funny book.  Funny in a Coen brothers way–as people are murdered/righteously killed by these actors and clowns.  It’s a violent book.
It’s a riotous joy to read.

From the author’s website:
“MOSCOW, FEBRUARY 1953. A week before Stalin’s death, his final pogrom is in full swing. Three government goons arrive in the middle of the night to arrest Solomon Shimonovich Levinson, an actor from the defunct State Jewish Theater. But Levinson, now an old man, is a veteran of past wars, and his shocking response to the intruders sets in motion a series of events both zany and deadly as he proceeds to assemble a ragtag group to help him enact a mad-brilliant plot: the assassination of a tyrant.”


New York Times
“Soon there is a core group determined to stop the deportation and pogrom that could become Stalin’s last gift to Russian Jews…The Yid is about Stalin’s worst enemy as well as his favorite prey. Mr. Goldberg fuses these characters and all that they suggest to Stalin—Paul Robeson for Lewis, Anna Akhmatova for one of the book’s women—into one hellish vision to haunt that dictator during his last hours on earth. So he gets one last gift, too.”

Maureen Corrigan at NPR
“‘The Yid’ doesn’t play nice. In fact, it plays fast and loose with history as well as with conventional approaches to writing about anti-Semitism and genocide.

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Deborah Levy Shortlisted for Booker

levy-book-prize-nominationPaul Beatty, Deborah Levy, Graeme Macrae Burnet, Ottessa Moshfegh, David Szalay, and Madeleine Thien have been named to the shortlist for the 2016 Man Booker Prize for Fiction.

This is the third year that the prize has been open to writers of any nationality, and it finds the shortlist evenly split between two British, two American, and two Canadian writers, as well as between Penguin Random House and independent publishers.

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Outrageous bullying for the good of the family in G B Stern’s The Matriarch

Detailed discussion of The Matriarch by G. B.Stern from Kate MacDonald on her blog.

2340220There is something particularly enjoyable about a female villain in fiction, written for readers who expect women to be pure, perfect, and positive. I did a podcast miniseries in 2012 on jaw-droppingly awful, truly appalling female characters, all behaving badly. It was immense fun to research and write, because these characters are so vile that when I’m reading them, they make me (metaphorically) rise up and shout in outrage. In G B Stern’s The Matriarch (1924) we are cowering before the most unstoppably interfering Jewish mother I’ve ever read.d0ff8d6a3b4f2ef592b67665a77444341587343

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Iain Sinclair on the trail of Roland Camberton

Writing Jews in Contemporary Britain

A recording of the whole day of the conference at Birkbeck College, September 11, 2013.

Writing Jews in Contemporary Britain

The workshop’s emphasis is on new and innovative work being undertaken in the field and is intended to provide a forum for presenting and analysing the most recent critical and theoretical approaches to British-Jewish fiction, film, television drama and documentary.

Through the workshop we hope to explore, among other topics, the representation of ‘hyphenated’ British and Jewish identities; the recent history and current state of British-Jewish literary and visual culture; and the relation of that culture to the mainstream in Britain. The seminar will also consider British-Jewish culture in the light of postcolonial thinking and in comparison to the development of Jewish culture in the USA.

The workshop will consist of three two-speaker panels, each panel centred on a particular themeFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblr

Jonathan Wilson on being an English Jew

jonathanwilson-biopic“For the British-born novelist and long-standing American citizen Jonathan Wilson, “A Jew can never really be English” without “the abnegation of a certain aspect of your personality.”