On Being (and Not Being) A Jewish American Writer
I have just finished Who We Are – On Being (and Not Being) a Jewish American Writer, an anthology of 29 essays compiled by Derek Rubin. While some of the selections are re-edited essays, others have been written specifically for the anthology.
Some of these writers are the sons or daughters of Holocaust survivors; they were children whose parents were reluctant to deal with the past and who, unlike most of their friends, had no grandparents. They all acknowledge that the Shoah impacts their writings in one way or another.
Rebecca Goldstein explains the development of her relationship with philosophy. A few essays later, her daughter Yael Goldstein deals with her personal connection with Judaism while casting a new light on her mother’s relationship with religion.
Lara Vapnyar was born in Russia where she was branded as a Jew by her classmates. As a result she viewed her being Jewish as a burden. She longed to move to America and discovered, much to her surprise, that she had a different view of her Jewishness once she was there. She is proud to be called a Russian born American Jewish writer and recalls that she cried when she learnt that her stories had been translated into Hebrew.
Who We Are is a fascinating book even if the format means you need some time to read it as each new essay means a different style and approach.