July 19, 2019

A Tough Time for Jewish Writers

“The world of literature, where Jews have made so many invaluable and long-standing contributions, is succumbing quickly to the new anti-Semitism.

The most recent example comes from the United Kingdom. Two cultural organizations in England have just rejected hosting talks by novelist Richard Zimler—explicitly because he’s Jewish. In the Guardian, Zimler writes of the conversation with a friend in which he learned of the trouble: “‘They asked me if you were Jewish, and the moment I said you were, they lost all interest,’ he said. “‘They even stopped replying to my emails and returning my phone messages.’”

Zimler had been hoping to promote his new novel, The Gospel According to Lazarus, and up until his friend confirmed the author’s Jewishness, these unnamed organizations had been interested. And then they weren’t. “It made Britain seem like a place I didn’t know and maybe never knew,” Zimler writes. “Even just asking about my religious affiliation struck me as outrageous.

It gets a bit more outrageous when you consider what Zimler’s publicist had to say to the Observer—while not revealing his own name: “I was very shocked and surprised. People in the literary world are not usually narrow-minded. Everyone who knows Richard knows he is his own person.””

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