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What To Read During Jewish American Heritage Month

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Rachel Cordasco

Staff Writer

Rachel Cordasco has a Ph.D in literary studies and currently works as a developmental editor. When she's not at her day job or chasing three kids, she's writing reviews and translating Italian speculative fiction. She runs the website, and can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

May is Jewish American Heritage Month, in which we recognize how Jews have contributed to American culture for over 350 years. Now, what would you tell your bubbe if she asked you to pick some books for her in honor of this month, hmm? She’d say, “mammele, I want to learn more about contemporary Jewish writers who are churning out the fiction and the non-fiction. A shanda it is that I don’t know where to begin!”

Well, you don’t want to disappoint your ol’ bubbe now, do ya.

But seriously, if you’re interested in reading more Jewish American writers or learning about Jewish history, here are some places to start. (BTW, you can thank my mama for a lot of these recs, since she scours the bookstores for Jewish novels and histories).



cahanThe Rise of David Levinsky (1917) by Abraham Cahan

Bread Givers (1925) by Anzia Yezierska

Jews Without Money (1930) by Michael Gold

The Natural (1952) by Bernard Malamud

Goodbye, Columbus (1959) by Philip Roth

My Name is Asher Lev (1972) by Chaim Potok

chabonThe Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (2000) by Michael Chabon

Everything is Illuminated (2002) by Jonathan Safran Foer

Rashi’s Daughters (2005-2009) by Maggie Anton

The Yiddish Policemen’s Union (2007) by Michael Chabon

People of the Book (2008) by Geraldine Brooks


feldmanThe Angel of Losses (2014) by Stephanie Feldman

Love and Treasure (2014) by Ayelet Waldman







ginsbergThe Jewish Cemetery at Newport” (1852) by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“To be a Jew in the Twentieth Century” (1944) by Muriel Rukeyser

Kaddish (1961) by Allen Ginsberg

“Yom Kippur 1984” (1984-5) by Adrienne Rich



Comics/Graphic Novels

mausMaus (1980) by Art Spiegelman

A Bintel Brief: Love and Longing in Old New York (2014) by Liana Finck







little_failureAmerican Jewish Women’s History: A Reader (2003), ed. Pamela S. Nadell

The Jews of Prime Time (2003) by David Zurawik

The Jewish Americans: Three Centuries of Jewish Voices in America (2007) by Beth Wenger

Little Failure (2014) by Gary Shteyngart



Here’s a lengthier bibliography of books related to Jewish culture and history:

Leave your recs below!


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