“The Polemic of the Jews”

“I’ve got no interest in the polemic of the Jews,” a colleague once told me on reading The Finkler Question. And I wasn’t surprised. Because all my surprise had been used up years back at Uni when I asked a friend about her literature and religion course. I knew that there were a couple of Jewish books on it and was curious what people thought about them. “Oh no one but me bothered to read them,” she informed me. As to whether she liked them, she replied with a scrunched up face “It was very Jewish-y.”

Now as someone Jewish I get this *a lot*. And because of that I wasn’t sure I’d ever make this post. But after you were all so positive about representation the other day, I thought it would be fun to talk about my experience of Jews in books- and no, I’m not going to talk about Jews dying in the Holocaust or as the villain- but positive representations- which are few and far between. I managed to compile a list of 5:

daniel deronda1. Daniel Deronda– the first one on here is by someone who was not Jewish- but I guarantee this is one of the best books about Jews there is. It really gets to the heart of what it is to be Jewish- the complexities and the differences- not simply putting everyone in one bracket.

 

the chosen2. The Chosen– I absolutely loved this one in the way it personified the internal debates of Jewish identity through the two boys at the heart of the story. Review to come soon… (hopefully)

 

King-of-Schnorrers3. King of Schnorrer’s– this is the most “out there” book on the list. It’s effectively a comedy about the king of “scroungers”- and is super hilarious.

 

Invisible

The_Golem_(Isaac_Bashevis_Singer_novel_-_cover_art)4. The Golem– I mentioned this on my blog after I went to Prague- Singer’s version is undoubtedly one of the best books on the subject, making the fairytale real by transposing it on the history of pogroms. You can read more about it here (and in general you can’t really go wrong with an Isaac Bashevis Singer book- the Manor and the Estate in particularly are a grittier more realistic version of Fiddler on the Roof)

 

letters-to-auntie-fori5. Letters to Auntie Fori– this one’s non-fiction, but is really unusual in that it was written as a series of letters to Gilbert’s “adopted” Auntie Fori about her Jewish roots. Hence the title “Letters to Auntie Fori”. It traces the birth of the religion to the modern day ethnicity and makes for a surprisingly invigorating read.

 

Today I want to ask you about *your* culture- what books from your country or culture do you like the most? What books do you feel represent *you*? Anything goes!

(Hoping a skinhead somehow finds their way here and says Mein Kampf- sometimes I live for the random trolls… I have a weird sense of humour)