cover image People Love Dead Jews: Reports from a Haunted Present

People Love Dead Jews: Reports from a Haunted Present

Dara Horn. Norton, $25.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-393531-56-5

In this searing essay collection, novelist Horn (Eternal Life) delves into the “many strange and sickening ways in which the world’s affection for dead Jews shapes the present moment.” Analyzing The Merchant of Venice, Holocaust memorials, and press coverage of a mass shooting at a Jersey City, N.J., kosher grocery store in 2019, among other topics, Horn comes to the conclusion that “the enormous public interest in past Jewish suffering” does not signify respect for living Jews. She notes that it took months for leaders of the Anne Frank House to reverse their policy preventing an employee from wearing his yarmulke. (“Seems like a rather long time for the Anne Frank House to ponder whether it was a good idea to force a Jew into hiding,” Horn quips.) Documenting her visit to the Chinese city of Harbin, Horn recounts how Russian Jews built the town in the early 20th century, only to have their community decimated by Japanese occupiers in the 1930s. Recent efforts to refurbish Harbin’s Jewish heritage sites ignore that tragic history, however, in favor of fake artifacts and stereotypes about “rich and smart” Jews. Enlivened by Horn’s sharp sense of humor and fluid prose, this penetrating account will provoke soul-searching by Jews and non-Jews alike. (Sept.)