Ron at Beatrice reports on a recent discussion at the 92nd St. Y about the state of Jewish fiction:
“Don’t pull a Philip Roth,” Margot Krebs chastised Nathan Englander the other night. We were all at the 92nd Street Y for a discussion on new Jewish fiction centered around the anthology Lost Tribe. Prof. Krebs had just asked what makes Jewish fiction Jewish, and he’d replied that it was a label that came entirely from the outside, not from the writer.
I saw Mr. Englander read several years ago, from his debut short story collection, For the Relief of Unbearable Urges. He read the title story of the collection, which was top-notch (the story, not the book as a whole). His delivery was — to put it kindly — a bit disappointing.
I wish I’d been at the Y the other night to hear him hold forth on fiction, though. According to Ron, Englander said, “fiction had better be universal or it is not functioning.”