The Arty Semite

Proliferating Jewish Fiction Online

By Lauren F. Friedman

  • Print
  • Share Share

Jewish Fiction. net is a new, online journal of Jewish fiction currently accepting submissions of original work and translation for its premiere issue. The Arty Semite recently chatted with Nora Gold, the journal’s Toronto-based founder and editor, about why we need a new Jewish literary journal, what Jewish Fiction. net hopes to achieve, and what Jewish fiction is, anyway.

Lauren F. Friedman: Why did you decide to start this journal?

Nora Gold: The changes occurring in the publishing industry — especially with the transition into the digital realm — make it harder for many really good writers to get published. I wanted to make people’s work accessible to an interested audience while fostering new Jewish writing and writers.

Why is there a need for such a journal right now?

I looked at the situation and said, “There’s a real lacuna here.” There was nobody bringing together excellent Jewish writing and writers from around the world. I wanted to create a place where you could encounter familiar names of writers you know, but also new writers, familiar ideas and new ideas. We all have one common language as Jews, but there are different cultures.

Which Jewish cultures are you aiming to bring together?

There needs to be more of a bridge between Diaspora Jewish writers and Israeli Jewish writers. I’m an ardent Zionist, but there’s disagreement about whether the center of Jewish life is in Israel or America. There’s a real tension there, but I see it as a creative tension. There are also many writers in Israel having difficulty getting their work published, and I really want to do something about that. There are writers in Israel really excited about the journal because lots of doors are closing on them.

What exactly is Jewish fiction? Can you define it?

There are as many answers as there are Jews. I think probably the easiest thing is to define what Jewish fiction is not. I don’t mean to be flippant, but I don’t adhere to culinary Judaism, where you throw in a blintz and it’s a Jewish story. I keep coming back to what Ruth Wisse wrote about the Jewish canon: Jewish literature is when both the author and the main character know they’re Jewish and let the reader know they’re Jewish. It has to be reflective somehow of the Jewish experience, whether that’s Jewish history or Jewish consciousness. The idea is that there would be nothing left if you took out all the Jewish content. The Jewishness has to be central — you can’t take it out like a blintz and have the story still resonate.

How do you define “Jewishness” in this context?

I come at this with a broad, pluralistic definition of what Jewish is, not just religious or Zionist or Holocaust-related. I welcome the diversity — religious, political, gender, sexual orientation, age — and I’m so excited by the international part of the journal. It would be very exciting if we could help bring the Jewish people closer together through literature.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Jewish Fiction .net, Jewish Fiction, Nora Gold

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.