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
Robert D. Kaplan’s deification of John J. Mearsheimer in The Atlantic last week shows that the authors of The Israel Lobby are winning
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
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.
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
With Stephen Sondheim’s second collection of his lyrics, the hyper-articulate, neurotic, modernist master Broadway songwriter takes a curtain call
Elie Wiesel’s Night and Jerzy Kosinski’s The Painted Bird established the child’s perspective as a useful lens for confronting the Holocaust
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.
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
The American Jewish response to Sept. 11 interprets—but doesn’t explain—the anti-Semitism, trauma, and mourning that still linger after the attacks
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