Prufrock's Page

Friday, July 01, 2005

From Jewish-American Fiction To Just Fiction

"As other 'minority' groups came into fashion — the black American writers, the South Asian American writers, the East Asian American writers — the old Jews did, after all, become just writers. Commentary became a right-wing rag (worse than right wing, in fact: predictably right wing); and Partisan Review closed up shop. Roth is still at the top of his game, as is Ozick at hers, and when they get reviews, favorable ones, they are treated as American writers, signifying nothing but themselves, involved in no conversation but the ancient quarrel between good art and bad. Nobody reads Malamud much anymore; his stories, after all, are just tales of poor Jews — tailors and egg candlers, ritual slaughterers and matchmakers, and other vanished types. Nobody fights anymore about whether 'Portnoy's Complaint' is good for the Jews. Instead, teachers — teachers like me — put it on their syllabi.

"What a victory."

An interesting -- and almost elegiac -- look at the days when "Jewish authors necessarily had something in common with one another" by Mark Oppenheimer, reviewing an anthology entitled Who We Are: On Being (and Not Being) a Jewish American Writer


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