Singer’s Typewriter and Mine: Reflections on Jewish Culture

Ilan Stavans. Univ. of Nebraska, $24.95 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-0-8032-7136-4
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Stavans, a professor of Latin American and Latino culture at Amherst, begins this wide-ranging and fascinating collection (a follow-up to 2001’s The Inveterate Dreamer) on a light note with a nine-page comic that introduces him as “the renowned Mexican Jewish writer and cultural critic” to a time-traveling 19th-century rabbi who finds himself on a plane for the first time. That sense of playfulness persists throughout the book, even as Stavans concisely and intelligently explores a range of topics, from the lack of a much-needed biographical treatment of activist rabbi Marshall T. Meyer to the impact of Isaac Bashevis Singer on literature. Anti-Semitism in Venezuela, Jewish elements of Maurice Sendak’s children’s books, a look back on the achievements of human rights champion Jacobo Timerman (whom he dubs Argentina’s Mandela)—all this and more are addressed in cleverly written, thought-provoking essays. Pieces on Sephardic literature and whether of multiculturalism in American society is real or illusory demonstrate that even when deployed in a longer format, Stavans’s gifts as an essayist are not diminished. Though intimidatingly particular at first glance, Stavans’s charming and erudite prose will draw in even those unfamiliar with his subjects. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/29/2012
Release date: 11/01/2012
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 369 pages - 978-0-8032-7146-3
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