Page 30 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 36

Basic HTML Version

JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
2 2
of individuals: members of the Chaimovitches, historical figures
and even characters he developed in his earlier novels about
Chicago Jewry. He also utilizes his first-hand knowledge of the
Holocaust, of the cities of Israel, of the agricultural settlements
and, of equal importance, American Jewry and its relationship
to Israel and Israelis. There is little of contemporary Jewish
life that escapes Levin's novelistic eye. He is considered to be
a realistic novelist, one to whom substance is more significant
than style. But there is style of a sort as well as a wealth of
historical material.
Others, like Michael Blankfort, also have drawn from actual
events to create Zionistic or Israeli fiction. There is little harm
in that; sometimes there is great usefulness in dredging up
actual events to create imaginative literature.
Exodus,
it is said,
has not been very imaginative; it certainly has been “useful.'״
Levin, of all American Jewish writers, has drawn most from
Israel’s past, and has given us novels of substance and, often,
of power. Just as he is foremost among American Jewish writers,
he also is in the front rank of those Jewish writers who have
understood the powerful symbolism of a reborn Israel. His
previous works, stories and novels, almost have been preparatory
to
The Settler
and
The Harvest.
Taken together, these rank as
the finest novels by an American about Israel.
OTHER WORKS
Israel and Zionism appear in a great many American Jewish
novels in which they play a role if not of key importance then
of some significance. Charles Angoff, for example, has published
a cluster of novels about the Polonsky family.12 It is a project
that has won critical attention and a cult of readers. Primarily
it deals with Jewish life in the United States, but the Polonsky
family is very large and in this ongoing chronicle, Zionism and
Israel are sometimes central. Nahum Sokolow and other Zionist
characters make their appearance. David Polonsky reacts to the
historic day when the United Nations votes for statehood for
Jews and Arabs alike and David is seen attending a celebration
12 The titles are listed here because Israel and Zionism are part of all
the books:
Journey to the Dawn; In the Morning Light; The Sun at
Noon; Between Day and Dark; The Bitter Spring; Summer Storm;
Memory of Autumn; Winter Twilight; Season of Mists; Mid-Century.