What constitutes a great Jewish book? Can a novel be considered "Jewish" if it is written in Russian or Polish or English or French? If modern fiction concentrates on individual experience, how can the novel represent the collective imagination of a multilingual and multicultural people? The first book to set forth the criteria for canonizing Jewish literature, The Modern Jewish Canon takes readers on an exhilarating chronological journey across the boundaries of language and culture, penetrating the complexities of Jewish experience through the greatest Jewish novels of modern times.
From Sholem Aleichem's Tevye the Dairyman, through Kafka's Joseph K. and Isaac Babel's Red Army correspondent Lyutov, to Saul Bellow's Artur Sammler and Cynthia Ozick's raging Holocaust survivor Rosa Lublin, Harvard professor Ruth Wisse shows how Jews have imagined and re-imagined themselves from generation to generation, and from place to place. Providing a historical and cultural context for understanding such writers as Isaac Bashevis Singer, Arthur Koestler, Elie Wiesel, and Leon Uris, this authoritative, fascinating work will become an enduring classic.