Norman Mailer could throw a punch, but as a writer he bobbed and weaved around his Jewishness.
Special To The Jewish Week
One virtue of the novel is that fictional characters often outlive the novelist who created them. Actually, that’s one of the reasons why some people give up their day jobs to tell stories instead. Aside from having children, fiction writing is one of the best ways to leave evidence of oneself. And, in some cases — think Atticus Finch, Ebenezer Scrooge, and Tom Sawyer — it can even lead to immortality.
It's unusual for three first-rate contemporary Jewish writers (Philip Roth, Cynthia Ozick, and David Grossman) to pay homage in their fiction to a somewhat obscure literary figure. But in Ozick's novella "The Messiah of Stockholm," Grossman's novel "See Under: Love," and Roth's story "The Prague Orgy," the gossamer figure of Bruno Schulz, the extraordinary Polish Jewish writer killed by the Nazis, predominates.
Two pronouncements about literature, made some 30 years ago, have had an enormous influence on my view of how American Jewish literature is evolving. The first is by Irving Howe, who famously said that without the dynamic of immigration and assimilation, of Jews struggling to tell the story of their transformation into Americans, Jewish literature in this country would quickly lose its energy, even its raison d’être.
Just a few hours ago, an Arab terrorist (maybe two?) made his way into Yeshivat Mercaz Harav in Jerusalefom and opened fire, killing at least seven Yeshiva students and wounding many others. It doesn’t take a political scientist to attribute this heinous act of barbarism to some form of revenge for Israel’s actions recently in Gaza. Significant numbers of civilians were killed in those actions, and the conventional wisdom in that part of the world is “blood for blood.”