An Israeli Writer’s Great American Novel

Israeli reviewers have repeatedly invoked the word “ambitious” to describe Reuven Namdar’s Hebrew novel, Habayit asher neḥerav (“The House That Was Destroyed”), which in January won the Sapir prize, Israel’s equivalent of Britain’s Man Booker award. The term is richly deserved. In The House That Was Destroyed, Namdar, an Israeli of Persian descent who for the … Continue reading An Israeli Writer’s Great American Novel

The Russians Have Pushkin, the Jews Have Bialik

A powerful new film, available online, shows us the man who more than any other shaped the modern Hebrew language. A boy walks with his mother at night. Behind them looms the moon, impossibly huge. Trees stream by as if beamed from the headlights of passing cars, followed by the humps of shtetl houses and Jews … Continue reading The Russians Have Pushkin, the Jews Have Bialik

Patrick Modiano’s (Jewish?) Sorrow

In awarding the 2014 Nobel Prize for literature to Patrick Modiano, a French novelist whose father was Jewish, did the Swedish Academy intend some kind of comment on the ongoing eruption of violent anti-Semitism on the streets of Paris and other European cities this year? It’s tempting to think so. But if there was a … Continue reading Patrick Modiano’s (Jewish?) Sorrow