Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Thursday, December 14, 2017

”The Conversations of the Jews” - A Short Story by Phillip Roth, 1960,included in Goodbye, Columbus and other Stories

1969 was the last time I read anything by Phillip Roth, it was the then controversial Portnoy’s Complaint, about a young Jewish man’s sexual obsession with a blond shiksha, a 

Yiddish term used repeatedly by Portnoy to refer to his non-Jewish girlfriend.  (I think this expression has passed into common usage in America since 1969, thanks to TV programs like Seinfeld.)

I am glad to be now including,  after a forty-eight year hiatus, a posting on a work by Phillip Roth.  Happily there is a reading of “The Conversion of the Jews” on YouTube, read by Jerry Stiller.  (Run time about 45 minutes)

As the story opens we meet three Jewish boys, in their teens.  One of the boys has gotten in trouble with the Rabbi at Hebrew School.  The Rabbi hit him in the face when he asked if God could make a woman pregnant without sex.  He also has sent a note for the boy’s mother to come to school for a conference.  Like many teenage boys he and his friends enjoy challenging authority figures.

I don’t want to spoil the quite exciting cliff hanging action that takes place on the day the boy’s mother is scheduled to visit the school.  

I enjoyed this story.  Jerry Stiller did a very good job in the Reading.

Roth was Born
in Newark, New Jersey, The United States
March, 1933.

Philip Milton Roth is an American novelist. He gained early literary fame with the 1959 collection Goodbye, Columbus (winner of 1960's National Book Award), cemented it with his 1969 bestseller Portnoy's Complaint, and has continued to write critically-acclaimed works, many of which feature his fictional alter ego, Nathan Zuckerman. The Zuckerman novels began with The Ghost Writer in 1979, and include American Pastoral (1997) (winner of the Pulitzer Prize). In May 2011, he won the Man Booker International Prize for lifetime achievement in fiction. - from Goodreads.  

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