Writing the Jewish Self - Review of "Who We Are: On Being (and Not Being) a Jewish American Writer"

By Rena Potok

Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association (RRA), Fall 2006

This is a review of Who We Are: On Being (and Not Being) a Jewish American Writer, edited by Derek Rubin (Schocken Books, 2005), 368 pp. Derek Rubin has gathered together a collection of remarkable essays that does not ask the question, "Who are we?" It utters the descriptive statement, "Who we are." In his introduction to the book, Rubin maps the key themes explored by the contributors (all fiction writers) to this volume: what it is that makes their fiction Jewish; how Jewish writers who emerged from the second world war spoke to the imagination of so many American readers at large, and became so central to American literature; whether there is a future for Jewish American literature after the great post-war writers; and the place of Jewish writing in contemporary multicultural America. Writers include Saul Bellow, Yael Goldstein, Chaim Potok, E.L. Doctorow, Cynthia Ozick, and Nessa Rapoport. Repeating themes and ideas that express shared concerns include: Influences of other writers on their works; American and Jewish identities: the writer's relationship to Jewish history, the immigrant experience, the sense of identity as "Jewish writers" and the notion of outsidership and insidership; matters of writing, language and traditional Jewish storytelling; the Holocaust.


Topic: Literature, History, Art, Culture, Media, Identity

Name of Publication: The Reconstructionist

Editor: Potok, Rena

Volume/Issue: Vol. 71/No. 1

Page Number(s): 70-74

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Genre: Book Review

Coverage: United States

Language: English

Copyright Holder: Publisher

Copyright Information: Download for personal use, freely distribute link

Bibliographic Information:
Potok, Rena. Writing the Jewish Self - Review of "Who We Are: On Being (and Not Being) a Jewish American Writer". The Reconstructionist. Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association (RRA). Fall 2006: 70-74. http://www.bjpa.org/Publications/details.cfm?PublicationID=5894


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