Page 13 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 42

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appea red . While this num be r was still high, it rep resen ted a d e ­
cline o f abou t one th ird in total p roduc tion .
H areven po in ted up the d ang e r to Israeli read ing habits from
TV and o th e r mass media which are u su rp ing the place o f the
book. He also expressed concern over the small percen tage o f
reade rs who habitually consult o u r sacred texts.
Still, the available statistics abou t the Israeli book world con­
tinue to upho ld the traditional claim tha t the Israelis are the Peo­
ple o f the Book. Close to 5,000 new titles are published annually,
a num be r propo rtionate ly h igher than tha t o f most nations. T h e
bi-annual Jerusa lem In te rna tiona l Book Fair and the annua l
Book Week events attest to the abiding in terest o f the Israeli pub ­
lic in the p r in ted word. In 1979/80 a total o f 15,000,000 books
were p r in ted and additional large num bers were im po rted . In
1979, 53 p e r cen t o f the popu lation aged 14 and over read at least
1 book a mon th , and o f them 30 pe r cent read at least 1 book a
week. Only 4 p e r cent o f Israeli households were found to be
without any books at all and the average home had 200 books. In
the last decade an encou rag ing factor has been the rise in the ra te
o f read ing in deve lopm en t towns and deprived neighborhoods .
H areven concludes tha t while it would be incorrect, the re fo re ,
to say tha t Israelis are no longer a People o f the Book, the in ­
creased preoccupa tion with the media makes it difficult to p ro ­
jec t behavior pa tterns for the 80’s and 90’s. He thus undersco res
the ongoing d ang e r to the centrality o f the book in Israeli life.
T h e same concerns tha t agitate observers o f Israeli society re ­
gard ing the role o f the book are at the hea r t o f the efforts o f the
JWB Jewish Book Council and its
Jewish Book Annual.
And it is to
these concerns tha t we again address ourselves in o u r cu r ren t
volume. T h e 18 articles fall into various rubrics which cover o u r
trilingual literary creativity.
American Jewish lite ra tu re is dealt with by Alvin H. Rosenfeld,
who views its deve lopm en t and cha rac te r from the vantage po int
o f the literary critic, and by Jo seph Lowin, who offers a guide to
Cyn th ia Ozick’s
Israeli lite ra tu re receives atten tion in
Rochelle Fu rs tenberg ’s trea tm en t o f Aharon Appelfeld as a p o r ­
traye r o f Holocaust themes, in Rena Lee Kofman’s analysis o f
t ren d s in co n tem p o ra ry Israe li fiction , an d in G. K ressel’s