I just read an excellent blog post about what makes a Jewish writer. Jeremy Rosen’s Blog: Jewish Writers
I’ve been wondering a bit about this myself. Right now, I’m looking at the comments I’m getting on the rewritten manuscript of my novel-in-progress from my “reviewers.” The book is a sci-fi novel with a very religious (read “traditional Jewish) premise…but I’m not sure that I want it to be published by a Jewish press exclusively for a Jewish audience. (Is it obnoxious to say that I want to write the literary equivalent of a Matisyahu song?) How much can I change the story to be palatable to a wider audience without sacrificing its Jewishness?
When I read a book by Saul Bellow or Phillip Roth (mentioned in the blog post listed above), I’m very uncomfortable. Yes, they are ethnically Jewish, but a lot of the content of their books is anti-Jewish in their religious/philosophical underpinnings. Is a book Jewish just because its author is?
Then again, does a Jewish writer have to write books that are Jewish in substance? If yes, are we talking culture or religion? There are books I’ve read that are not by religious Jews, but are completely consistent with Jewish ideals. On the other hand, I’ve read books by Orthodox authors that aren’t specifically religious in any way.
Any opinions out there?