Diaspora And Zionism in Jewish American Literature by Ranen Omer-Sherman
This interdisciplinary study explores the evolving representations of diaspora and Zionism in Jewish American writing from 1880 to the late 20th century. Beginning with the often neglected proto-Zionist verse of Emma Lazarus, through the urban and Holocaust-inflected lyrics of Marie Syrkin and Charles Reznikoff, to the post-assimilationist novels of Philip Roth in the 1990s, Ranen Omer-Sherman analyzes literary responses to the competing claims on the self made by this dual allegiance. He explores ethnic nationalism in the works of Lazarus; history and identity in the prose and verse of Syrkin and her husband Reznikoff; and considers the Jewish writer’s relation to the loss of diasporic affliction as an organizing principle for Jewish life in the novels of Roth. Much more than just literary criticism, Omer-Sherman shows how this literature developed in direct relation to crucial phases in Jewish acculturation in the context of nativism, xenophobia, the holocaust, and a beckoning distant homeland.