Today Tuesday/Jewish Fiction (Post From 2019)

One of the many, many genres I enjoy reading is religious fiction in general. This post, however, will focus on the specific category of Jewish fiction.
So how do I, personally, define Jewish fiction?
Any work of fiction, whether it is a novel, chapter book, or collection of stories from a Jewish publisher is, of course, Jewish fiction.
But what about books from secular publishers?
Well, in that case, it’s not enough for the characters in the book to be Jewish. They should be shown celebrating Jewish holidays, observing the Sabbath, perhaps getting ready for a Bar or Bat Mitzvah.
The only indications that the family in “Amy Moves In” by Marilyn Sachs [a favorite book of mine, by the way]is Jewish is the use of some Jewish expressions, and the mention of matzah-brei [fried matzah]. Therefore, I don’t consider it to be Jewish fiction.
The same author’s “Peter and Veronica”, however, DOES qualify in my eyes as Jewish fiction, because a good portion of the book centers around Peter’s Bar Mitzvah.
I also feel that good Jewish fiction, in fact ANY good religious fiction, should include the characters secular interests. For example, Sydney Taylor’s wonderful book, “All-Of-A-Kind Family” begins with a chapter about Sarah’s lost library book. Such an incident can happen in Catholic literature, Protestant fiction, books without any religious themes, and… all too often… real life.
And it’s not always necessary for the main character in a book to be Jewish.
In “It Happened To Hannah”, by Ruth Rounds, Hannah, a little Methodist girl who has recently moved to a new neighborhood, finds a Jewish star necklace, and winds up
learning about Jewish customs. To me, that makes the book Jewish fiction.
But whether a book is a work of religious or secular fiction, it should, first of all, be a good story or collection of stories.

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