The Arty Semite

Forward Favorites for the National Book Critics Awards

By Ezra Glinter

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The National Book Critics Circle announced the finalists for its annual book awards on Saturday, which include Benjamin Moser’s “Why This World,” a biography of the Brazilian Jewish novelist Clarice Lispector.

Born Chaya Lispector in Chechelnik, Ukraine in 1920, Lispector was brought to Brazil as an infant. There she went on to write books such as “The Passion According to G.H.”, in which a woman achieves spiritual climax by eating the insides of a cockroach. In “Why This World,” Moser argues that Lispector’s life and work should be understood in the spirit and history of Jewish mysticism.

Back in August, Forward contributor Yelena Akhtiorskaya reviewed Moser’s book, writing that:

“’Why This World’ by Benjamin Moser is the first English-language biography of Lispector, and as such it is worthy. Comprehensive, inspired, respectful of necessary silences — it does what Lispector set as a goal for her own writing: to leave unexplained what cannot be explained.”

Read the whole thing here.

Also up for an award, under the criticism category, is one-time Forward contributor Morris Dickstein’s “Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression.”

We’ll be rooting.


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