Page 28 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 36

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judge what has been published since. I do not do this in chrono-
logical terms, for then I would be overlooking the one gigantic
publishing best-seller which made Israel popular as a subject to
the general American reader. That, of course, is Leon Uris’s
Exodus.
It must head the list, regardless of whether it is the best
of the novels or—as some believe—the worst.
Exodus
captured the American imagination and outsold all
previous books on Israel. It also encouraged others to publish
books on a subject hitherto considered non-commercial.
Exodus
brought to Israel tourists who traversed the paths of the
Exodus
characters. It brought a sense of pride to thousands of Jews
who had somehow remained indifferent to contemporary Jewish
history. A bit like
Uncle Tom’s Cabin,
it may not have been
Literature; it surely was topnotch Jewish, Zionist and Israeli
propaganda. Uris recognized the “big story” and he wrote about
larger-than-life heroes. The movie based on the novel, and even
the theme song written for the movie, became part of American
Jewish folklore. The
Exodus
theme became the melody played
at almost all American Jewish weddings.
There is no space in this survey to review all of the books
or the short stories written about Israel. Some are referred to in
my previous study. Many novels belong in a footnote and they
are here given.7 Nonetheless, certain writers and particular
novels deserve more than passing mention, and attention shall
be paid to them. Foremost among them is Meyer Levin, whose
first book on Jewish settlement in Palestine,
Yehuda,
was writ-
ten in 1931, and whose most recent novel,
The Harvest,
was
issued in 1978, to complete a two-volume series about the history
of modern Israel and its early settlers.
Between 1931 and 1978, Levin has published other novels
about Israel, including
My Father’s House
(1947) ;
Gore and
Igor
(1967) ;
The Spell of Time
(1974) and
The Settlers
(1972) .8 Few American Jewish writers have written as much
7
Bring My Sons from Afar
by Ralph Lowenstein;
The Gate of Hell
by
Alfred Coppel;
The Coasts of the Earth
by Harold Livingston;
What
Ship? Where Bound
? by Shepard Rifkin;
Blood and Water
by Charles
Humana;
Out of the Dust
by Helen Waren;
Come to the War
by Leslie
Thomas;
For Dying You Always Have Time
by Sally M. Singer;
Burnt
Offering
by Daniel Spicehandler;
A Star in the Wind
by Robert Nathan;
A Beggar in Jerusalem
by Elie Wiesel (not strictly an
American
writer).
8 Levin also has also written two excellent short stories about Israel,
2 0
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