Page 49 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 7 (1948-1949)

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37
BLOCH----THE YEAR’S BOOKSHELF
the meaning of Judaism is arrived at while he is visiting his uncle’s
estates in Polish Galicia, where his admiration for the Jewish
peasant-way of life causes him to abandon the dispirited world
outlook that he had picked up in the Viennese salons. The story
centers on the Jewish characters and their life on the land. The
narrative is also related to other religious and national groups of
Eastern Europe in a way as to make more understandable many
of the happenings of recent history. The book is heavily marked
with somber political overtones hinting at the approach of the
Second World War, but it also contains a large amount of excel-
lent gay, or at least less serious, writing.
Seedtime
, a novel by Leo Katz, translated from the German
by Joel Ames (N. Y., Knopf, ’47), is the story of a pogrom on the
Jews of Sereth, a Christian town on the Roumanian border. It
was in the 1907 peasants’ revolt against the landowners that an
effort was made to divert some of the revolt’s force against the
Jews. How the expected massacre was averted and how the up-
rising took a dramatically liberal turn before being crushed bv
troops are told movingly in this novel. Several Jewish major and
minor characters, many of them politically vocal, play their
respective roles in the story.
A somber and deeply felt story of the racial tensions and rivalries
of people in South Africa is
The path of thunder
by Peter Abrahams
(N. Y., Harper, ’48). It tells a tragic story of the doomed love
between a colored man and a white woman, and it ends up as
melodramatically as Sinclair Lewis’
Kingsblood Royal.
Lanny
Swartz is a colored youth who received enough education in
Cape Town to become a schoolteacher. He goes back to his birth-
place and people in the country to bring education to his folk. It
is not until he meets fair-haired Sarie Villiers that he discovered
his own strength in love. He and Sarie fall in love. Equal in
character, learning and bearing she returns his love. He looks at
the problem from every side. Lanny argues it out with a Negro
and a Jew. All are of the dispossessed, but the Negro has an
anchor in his tribe and the Jew in his age-old past. The half-caste
is a rootless creature with neither a past nor a future. He can
be neither stoical like Isaac Finkelberg, the Jewish shopkeeper’s
son, who would rather write about life than live it — nor the man
of action, like Mako, the philosophical Kaffir, who advocates free-
dom through violence. I t is, essentially, a tragic-novel, and it
conveys the mood of tragedy from beginning to end. It shows
many injustices, but it also shows the kindliness that is inherent
in people — well, not all people, but some people — and that can
be brought out.
Marcel Ayme, a distinguished contemporary French novelist,