For Adam Kirsch’s latest Tablet post, Nathan Englander’s (above) latest collection of stories, What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank, as well as his forthcoming translation of the Passover Haggadah, gives Kirsch a perfect opportunity to assess the last century of the Jewish novel, and also look forward to the next generation.
I especially like the opening where Kirsch perfectly encapsulates the places of some of the most iconic scribes who are normally the first ones people think of when they hear the term “Jewish writer”:
Isaac Babel, who wrote about the impotence of the Jewish intellectual, is now a hero to Jewish intellectuals; Franz Kafka, who dramatized the blockage of Jewish tradition and the impasse of theology, is now read as a profound Jewish theologian. Even Philip Roth, the creator of Alexander Portnoy and Mickey Sabbath and Nathan Zuckerman, has turned in his late-late period into a moist elegist of his boyhood Newark; his recent books all read like palinodes. Born into this Jewish and American cultural climate