The ‘Canker in the Soul’ That Ate Away at Roth’s Writing

August 14, 2005 | , , ,

Redemption: The Life of Henry Roth
By Steven G. Kellman
Norton. 372 pages. $25.95.

Henry Roth’s literary career is a testament to the power of a book review. His first novel, “Call It Sleep,” sold modestly when it was published in 1934, and didn’t approach national prominence. Three decades later, the critic Irving Howe penned an unusually positive and prominent review, and despite having been out of print for years, the book began to leap off the shelves. (more…)

Couple Finds Room for Love, Rebellion in Orthodox Judaism

May 11, 2004 |

The Outside World
By Tova Mirvis
Knopf. 283 pages. $24.

Tova Mirvis’ lighthearted second novel, “The Outside World,” features young lovers who come together despite the differences in their backgrounds. This isn’t exactly “Jungle Fever” or “West Side Story,” though: Tzippy Goodman and Bryan Segal are both, after all, Orthodox Jews. It’s just that Tzippy was raised in a traditional Orthodox home, while Bryan grew up Modern Orthodox. This distinction is subtle but significant. Bryan’s father removes his yarmulke before entering the Manhattan law firm where he works, and expects his son to return from yeshiva in Israel ready for college. The family’s Modern Orthodox lifestyle can be summed up by Y.L. Gordon’s Enlightenment-era advice: “Be a man in the street and a Jew in your tent.” (more…)