Adam Kirsch is a contributing editor for Tablet Magazine and the author of Benjamin Disraeli, a biography in the Nextbook Press Jewish Encounters book series.
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The Talmud’s Many Demons

Sages in a superstitious age accepted the existence of invisible devils and the use of magic to render them visible

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A Talmudic Journey Begins

Our book critic dives into Daf Yomi’s daily regimen expecting a law code, but instead finds a chain of questions

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Mystic Goddess of Brazil

Writer Clarice Lispector’s exoticism had much to do with her Jewishness; her literary vocabulary did not

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The Last Critic

The great M.H. Abrams, peer of Trilling, teacher of Bloom, and editor of the Norton Anthology, dead at 102

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John Updike the Jew

In his Bech books, the great novelist of American WASPdom parsed the allure and otherness of Jewish writers

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Daniel Pearl, a Novel

Joshua Henkin’s seductive The World Without You transforms recent headlines into intimate family drama

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The End of the Jewish Left

Political theorist Michael Walzer and others argue about the death of the century-long Jewish-Leftist alliance

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Haunted by Hitler’s Hangman

The French quasi-novel HHhH, by Laurent Binet, tells the tale of assassinated Nazi leader Reinhard Heydrich while wondering whether it need be retold

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I.B. Singer, the Last Demon

In stories written in Poland and the U.S., the modernist master Isaac Bashevis Singer mined folk tales to convey the 20th century’s essential cruelty

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Susan Sontag Tells All

The newly published second volume of the great critic’s journals reveals her transformation from hedonistic revolutionary to elitist enforcer

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Flower Children

Saul Bellow’s Mr. Sammler’s Planet is a document of the cravings of 1960s America, and an attempt to bring the Holocaust to bear on America

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Bloodlines

Ellen Ullman’s new novel pushes a psychoanalyst, a patient, and a mysterious eavesdropper back to their traumatic roots—in the Holocaust

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Sentimental Journey

In the new collected stories of Nathan Englander, and in his revised Haggadah, Jews cling tenuously to the easily broken chains of tradition

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Half Human

The German Jewish writer Joseph Roth, whose letters are newly translated, chronicled the death of 19th century Europe and the rise of its darker heir

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Framed

Robert D. Kaplan’s deification of John J. Mearsheimer in The Atlantic last week shows that the authors of The Israel Lobby are winning

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Earthly Gardens

In The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, Giorgio Bassani’s 1962 novel, an aristocratic Jewish family in Italy tries to wall itself off from the Holocaust

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Whole in One

Two recent books consider whether Jewishness is a religion, a culture, a race, or some combination of the three. The answer may be none of the above.

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No Exit

Life and Fate, Vasily Grossman’s indispensable account of the horrors of Stalinism and the Holocaust, puts Jewishness at the heart of the 20th century

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The Art of Making Art

With Stephen Sondheim’s second collection of his lyrics, the hyper-articulate, neurotic, modernist master Broadway songwriter takes a curtain call

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Children’s Books

Elie Wiesel’s Night and Jerzy Kosinski’s The Painted Bird established the child’s perspective as a useful lens for confronting the Holocaust

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Seeing Double

A Jewish literature is easy to identify. But defining Jewish art is a task of Talmudic complexity, as a new book, Jewish Art, makes clear.

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Pilgrim’s Progress

Creating Jewishness in a post-religious age: Leon Uris’ Exodus and S.Y. Agnon’s Only Yesterday paint Israel’s history in broad and fine strokes

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No Escape

The American Jewish response to Sept. 11 interprets—but doesn’t explain—the anti-Semitism, trauma, and mourning that still linger after the attacks

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Darling Wendy

A breathless biography of Wendy Wasserstein hints at the tensions in the playwright’s life but, like its subject, fails to confront them

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Parlor Games

In his novel The Vices, Lawrence Douglas spins a Nabokovian web of intrigue and self-deception that hints at the way Jewish identity is constructed and performed

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Jerusalem Stone

Robert Stone’s 1998 novel Damascus Gate sets spies, cultists, and terrorists loose in the Holy Land

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Ordinary People

Two new books, The Druggist of Auschwitz and Reluctant Accomplice, offer true stories of average citizens’ divergent responses to Nazi rule. They help us examine our own rationalization of genocide.

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Coming of Age

And This Is the Light, the sole novel by the prolific Israeli writer Lea Goldberg, recently released in English, imagines adolescence and romance on the verge of World War II in Lithuania

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Ballet Master

In the new biography René Blum and the Ballets Russes: In Search of Lost Life, the early 20th-century impresario—who died at Auschwitz and symbolizes the tragedy of French Jewry—remains a riddle

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By the Book

In The Bible Now, two scholars look for modern answers to pressing political questions—from gay marriage to capital punishment—in the Bible. The problem is that such an exercise is unnecessary.