The J-Word

This is a wonderful novel about the Jews of London, observant and secular, and their struggles with identity and anti-Jewish hostility  (“In every generation…”). Jack Silver, who thought he raised a secular like himself discovers otherwise and is charmingly transformed by a tradition-seeking grandchild. There is also the fractured, multicultural British welfare state and the delays, indifference and friction it inevitably produces. I was already smitten with author Andrew Sanger’s 4th edition of “Fodor’s Exploring Israel” (which is a visit all by itself) so I was not surprised to find he had such a good story in him and the talent to convey it with humor and substance. I can’t imagine how anyone could be anything but pleased with either volume. And in light of the probability that “The J-Word” will not be seconded for some time, I have begun reading it again.

UPDATE:  A good interview with the author on his intentions. And a nice link from him, as well. Thank you.

0 responses to “The J-Word

  1. I read it twice too! It’s such a good novel. Spread the word, people!

  2. Rachel Sanger

    It’s an excellent novel. Do spread the word. Yes, we are related! but this is my own idea, I honestly think this book deserves a big American readership.

  3. Dick Stanley

    Thank y’all for stopping by. Yes, the book does deserve a big American readership. Indeed, everywhere. Certainly, in light of the American health-care takeover argument, the novel’s description of the shabby hospital and indifferent doctors could be important. But that’s probably not what you have in mind. 😉

  4. If British Jooz had less anxieties and more spirit, they would have been less inclined to join all kinds of Jews for that and Jews for other anti-Israeli coalitions, I guess. But that’s not in the cards for now.

  5. Dick Stanley

    The book’s main characters are not sympathetic to anti-Israeli coalitions. In fact they have some Israeli involvement, though I don’t want to write any spoilers. Nor is the author anti-Israel. He comments on “…the UK’s powerful Palestinian lobby – which has a grip on the BBC, a number of British universities, several newspapers and the trade unions” at his blog here:

  6. I really appreciate your comments about The J-Word – thank you.
    It certainly didn’t occur to me that the book could be seen as an attack on the National Health Service! Rather, the hospital section is intended as part of a wider comment on the inefficiency, incompetence and lack of respect for the individual that pervades ALL British public institutions now. I did want to convey, as a background to the story, a sense of Britain’s social and cultural disintegration.
    In response to SnoopyTheGoon, I agree with your comment, but the The J-Word is about quite a different issue: the main character has tried (but very unsuccessfully) to abandon his Jewishness because he is anti-religious, not anti-Israel. One of the characters eventually finds a way to identify as Jewish through active support for Israel.

  7. Dick Stanley

    I didn’t think the book was an attack on state-run health services, per se, just that it showed what they are likely to become for the average patient. We already get that kind of indifference in most government programs, which is why so many of us have an aversion to Obamacare. Anyway, it’s always interesting, what an author intends to convey vs what a reader receives. Teachers have the same problem.