Foreword Reviews

The New Diaspora

The Changing Landscape of American Jewish Fiction

These stories, all rich in both character and detail, don’t conform to a set genre or approach, letting their Jewish themes link narratives that have rich differences.

The New Diaspora is an ambitious project, bringing together thirty-six short stories about Jewish life in a massive collection featuring some of America’s best Jewish writers. There’s a variety of excellent writing here, Jewish in focus but also accessible to a wider audience, with stories that hit every emotion and should interest fans of any writing style.

The first half of The New Diaspora features selected winners of the annual Edward Lewis Wallant Award, from Joshua Henkin’s 2012 “Sex on the Brain” back to Curt Leviant’s 1977 “Say It Isn’t So, Mr. Yiddish.” The winners are all worthy of acclaim. One highlight is Edith Pearlman’s “Purim Night,” in which Jews living in a refugee camp adapt their holiday celebration to their limited means. Eileen Pollack’s excellent “The Bris” concerns a son trying to help his dying father obtain a circumcision and formally convert before it’s too late for him to be buried in a Jewish cemetery alongside his beloved wife. Thane Rosenbaum’s “The Day the Brooklyn Dodgers Finally Died” juxtaposes Holocaust survivors’ attempts to fight against anti-Semitic harassment in their own neighborhood with the bigger picture, and the attempts to get justice from Swiss banks that profited from laundering Nazi money.

The second half of the book collects notable stories from various literary journals. Highlights include Scott Nadelson’s “Oslo,” describing the characters’ journey to Israel and its ethnic neighborhoods; Avner Mandelman’s “Pity,” which tells the story of Nazi hunters on the trail of a war criminal living under a new identity; and Nathan Englander’s “Free Fruit for Young Widows,” in which a father shares the dark history behind why he gifts a local man with food despite their past differences.

The book’s physical size (it runs more than 550 pages, in a large-trim size) does make it a bit unwieldy, but the content is so good that none of the stories should be skipped in this excellent collection.

Reviewed by Jeff Fleischer

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author of this book provided free copies of the book to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. No fee was paid by the author for this review. Foreword Reviews only recommends books that we love. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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