Page 23 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 33

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RIBALOW / AMERICAN JEWISH FICTION AWARDS
13
was an astonishingly popular success and also was made into a
popular movie. It remains available in various editions almost
twenty years after it was written.
Philip Roth is, of course, a major American literary figure and
Goodbye, Columbus
remains in print, as do all his books. Wal-
lant’s
The Human Season
was probably the work which bene­
fited most by winning the Jewish Book Council award. Wallant
was totally unknown. It is a sensitive study of a middle-class Jew,
a working man who deeply mourns the unexpected death of his
wife. Today there is a Wallant “cult”; critics will from time to
time publish retrospective or comprehensive essays about him.
His books are issued in paperback and when they go out of print,
after a hiatus they reappear in paperback; therefore
The Human
Season
remains available fifteen years after its publication.
Isaac Bashevis Singer is so well known that I think some people
overlook the fact that
The Slave
(or at least the first two-thirds
of it) is probably one of his most brilliant evocations of Jewish
life in Poland centuries ago and contains some of his most
imaginative, most poetic and most vivid writing.
I personally considered Joanne Greenberg’s
The Kings Persons
one of the finest historical novels when I first read it. It was, so
far as I knew then, a first novel. It deals with the pogrom against
the Jews of York, and Mrs. Greenberg has gone on to write col­
lections of short stories and other novels. She is a writer of sub­
stance and solidity, and has earned her recognition.
Meyer Levin’s
The Stronghold
is not among his strongest
novels, a judgment which I think he himself would concede. But
i t ’s good that he has been a winner who appears on this list.
Chaim Grade was the winner in 1967 for
The Well
and might
very well have won the 1974 award for
The Agunah,
which is a
far more powerful book than
The Well.
I am confident it will
outlive Mrs. Karsavina’s novel. For that matter, in 1974 Susan
Fromberg Schaeffer’s
Anya
was published, and it is noteworthy
that the Schaeffer, Grade and Karsavina novels all deal with
Jewish life in Poland at different times. I believe the weakest of
the three won the award.
Charles Angoff is deeply engaged in a tremendously ambitious
project of which his tenth book,
Mid-Century,
was published in
1974; however, it was disqualified from contention on the basis
of the “two times winner” rule. There is no point in speculating