Jewish American literature

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Jewish American literature holds an essential place in the literary history of the United States. It encompasses traditions of writing in English, primarily, as well as in other languages, the most important of which has been Yiddish. While critics and authors generally acknowledge the notion of a distinctive corpus and practice of writing about Jewishness in America, many writers resist being pigeonholed as 'Jewish voices'. Also, many nominally jewish writers cannot be considered representative of Jewish American literature, one example is Isaac Asimov.

Beginning with the memoirs and petitions composed by the Sephardic immigrants who arrived in America during the 1700s, Jewish American writing grew over the subsequent centuries to flourish in other genres as well, including fiction, poetry, and drama. It reached some of its most mature expression in the 20th century "Jewish American novels" of Saul Bellow, Bernard Malamud, Chaim Potok, and Philip Roth. Their work explored the conflicting pulls between secular society and Jewish tradition which were acutely felt by the immigrants who passed through Ellis Island and by their children and grandchildren.

More recent authors like Paul Auster, Michael Chabon, and Jonathan Safran Foer have continued to examine dilemmas of identity in their work, turning their attention especially to the Holocaust and the trends of both ongoing assimilation and cultural rediscovery exhibited by younger generations of American Jews. Modern Jewish American novels often contain (a few or many) Jewish characters and address issues and themes of importance to Jewish American society such as assimilation, Zionism/Israel, and Anti-Semitism, along with the recent phenomenon known as "New Anti-Semitism." Magazines such as The New Yorker have proved to be instrumental in exposing many Jewish American writers to a wider reading public.

[edit] Further reading

  • Chametzsky, Jules, et al. Jewish American Literature: A Norton Anthology. W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2001. ISBN 0-393-04809-8
  • Fried, Lewis, Ed. Handbook of American-Jewish Literature: An Analytical Guide to Topics, Themes, and Sources. Greenwood Press, 1988. ISBN 0-313-24593-2
  • Furman, Andrew. Israel Through the Jewish-American Imagination: A Survey of Jewish-American Literature on Israel, 1928-1995. SUNY Press, 1997. ISBN 0791432513
  • Kramer, Michael P. and Hana Wirth-Nesher. The Cambridge Companion to Jewish American Literature. Cambridge University Press, 2003. ISBN 0-521-79293-2
  • Kugelmass, Jack, Ed. Key Texts in American Jewish Culture. Rutgers University Press, 2003. ISBN 0813532213
  • Nadel, I. B. Jewish Writers of North America: A Guide to Information Sources. Gale Group, 1981. ISBN 0810314843
  • Rubin, Derek, Ed. Who We Are: On Being (and Not Being) a Jewish American Writer. Schocken, 2005. ISBN 0-8052-4239-2
  • Weber, Donald. Haunted in the New World: Jewish American Culture from Cahan to The Goldbergs. Indiana University Press, 2005. ISBN 0-2533-4579-0

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

Jewish American literature

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