Book Group: Contemporary Jewish American Fiction
2nd Tuesday of the Month, January - April
4 Tuesdays, 5PM-6:30PM Pacific Time
Hosted via Zoom • $150
There is a common historical narrative about Jewish American fiction: it had its "breakthrough" moment in the mid-twentieth century, when authors like Saul Bellow, Philip Roth, Bernard Malamud, and Cynthia Ozick won mainstream recognition from the American literary establishment. Though there were numerous writers working in the early part of the century--Abe Cahan, Anzia Yezierska, Henry Roth--this class will trouble this historical narrative by moving us forward rather than backward.
In reading four novels published from the past four years, we'll ask: what makes a novel "contemporary," "Jewish" or "American" today? As we read fiction written by Jewish authors and fiction written by non-Jews about Jewish Americans, we'll attend to this tradition's most common themes--identity, assimilation, language, history. Yet, we'll also grapple with how these texts unsettle this tradition, and us.
Books to be read (all books can be purchased at links below):
- Jan: The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store, by James McBride
- Feb: The Stars Are Not Yet Bells, by Hannah Lillith Assadi
- Mar: The Netanyahus, by Joshua Cohen
- Apr: The Book of Paradise: A Jewish Comic Novel, by Itzik Manger
Alex Ullman is a writer, musician, and educator based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is currently pursuing his PhD in the English department at UC Berkeley.