Roth vs. the Rabbis

May 23, 2018 |

BEFORE PHILIP ROTH was celebrated, infamous, or dead, he was a very precocious kid writer. A story he wrote in college was chosen for The Best American Short Stories collection, and within a few years, his work was already being adapted for television by a world-famous director, Alfred Hitchcock.

He had talent, of course, but plenty of his earliest fiction was sentimental pap he’d never allow anyone to reprint. What’s most striking about that young Roth, and worth remembering as we mourn his death today, was just how clear-headed he was, already, on the issue of Jewish authority.

This tends to get a little confused in the way he’s remembered.  (more…)

An Unusual Jewish Novel, Full of Blood and Incense

January 10, 2018 | , , , ,

By Ruby Namdar
Translated by Hillel Halkin
514 pp. Harper. $29.99.

It’s been a season of reckoning for our high priests, as one after another, in the film industry, journalism, politics, academia and other fields, have been judged and sometimes punished for their sins. How eerie that Ruby Namdar’s strange and exhilarating novel, “The Ruined House,” should appear in English translation just now.