A breathless biography of Wendy Wasserstein hints at the tensions in the playwright’s life but, like its subject, fails to confront them
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
Robert Stone’s 1998 novel Damascus Gate sets spies, cultists, and terrorists loose in the Holy Land
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.
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
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
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.
In The Lost Children, Tara Zahra tells the heartbreaking stories of child survivors of World War II, whose fate was often decided by ideological battles, policy debates, and lingering ethnic tensions
A pound of flesh, a lion with a thorn in his paw, an all-powerful book—a new collection of Jewish folktales from Arab lands sheds light on the universality of the genre
In Departures, half-forgotten poet-critic Paul Zweig—who died in 1984 at the age of 49—recalls the decade he spent in Paris on the run from and in search of his Jewish self
A new biography tries to untangle painter Lee Krasner from the husband whose outsize personality and paint-splattered canvasses left her in the shadows
An anthology on the concept of philo-Semitism shows that ‘Jew lovers’ have often been just a shade better than anti-Semites—and sometimes no better at all
In Leeches, a novel by the Serbian Jewish writer David Albahari, Belgrade plays home to nationalists, anti-Semites, and kabbalistic puzzles
A new book shows how Nazism and the Ku Klux Klan prompted the American establishment to look beyond longstanding divisions and see Catholics, Protestants, and Jews as kin
A new edition of Walter Benjamin’s early work sheds light his first reckonings with Jewishness and offers glimpses of the powerful thinker he would ultimately become
The history of the synagogue in America, a new book shows, is one of rifts, splits, factions, and the ever-evolving tension between tradition and modernity
In The Mighty Walzer, Howard Jacobson serves up not just the greatest ping-pong novel ever written but a rollicking portrait of mid-century Jewish Manchester
A critical edition of The Washington Haggadah, a 1478 manuscript housed at the Library of Congress, shows how much—and how little—Passover has changed since the 15th century
The Free World, David Bezmozgis’ novel about a family of Soviet émigrés stuck in Rome waiting for visas to North America, explores the joys—and costs—of newfound liberty
Jacqueline Osherow’s latest collection, Whitethorn, offers poems engaged at once with the literature of the Jewish past and the landscape of the American present
In his 1988 novel Fiasco—only now available in English—Hungarian Nobel laureate Imre Kertész imagines an author exhausted by the Holocaust yet unable to write about anything else
A new Modigliani biography tries to undo the painter’s reputation for drunken excess and bolster his standing as a serious artist
In Jerusalem, Jerusalem, James Carroll uses the city as a metaphor for the human tendency to combine religion with violence
A new book examines black, Jewish, and Irish quests for national redemption, identifying their century-old similarities but ignoring their more recent differences
A new book charts the course of America’s Hebraists, literary iconoclasts who eschewed Yiddish and the Holy Land—and regarded their new home with deep ambivalence
Americans say that the Bible is central to them—a divine instruction manual for life on earth. How is it, then, a new book asks, that they know so little of it?
In a new book, Al-Quds University President Sari Nusseibeh assesses what Palestinians stand to gain from the creation of their own state—and what they stand to lose
Exodus recast Israel’s founders as swaggering heroes and secured Leon Uris a place on the Jewish bookshelf even though, as a new biography shows, he was a mediocre writer and a troubled person
Irving Kristol positioned himself as a hard-headed realist willing to buck liberal pieties, but do his unsentimental pronouncements, collected in a new volume, stand the test of time?
I.J. Singer’s newly reissued The Brothers Ashkenazi may not be on par with the greatest realist epics, but it is an eerie foretelling of Eastern European Jewry’s eventual fate