This talk will take an idiosyncratic look at what we’ve come to know as “Canadian Jewish literature,” exploring the dynamics of canon building: the way certain books, like Richler’s novels, attain dominant status, while competing novels of equal importance fade from sight. It will examine the particular presentation of Jewish identity found in key novels and poetry, to account for how timing, audience, the non-Jewish market and shifting popular tastes make or break a book’s reputation. A writer’s views on the Old World, Yiddish, the Holocaust, immigrant identity and assimilation contribute to these outcomes. We will also consider how a tradition is shaped by publishers, critics, reviewers, professors and, of course, the shifting taste of readers.
Faculty: Norman Ravvin