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Sephardic-American Voices
Two Hundred Years of a Literary Legacy
Diane Matza, ed.

Brandeis Series in American Jewish History, Culture, and Life

1997 • 377 pp. 4 illus. 6 x 9"
Jewish Studies / Cultural Studies

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"Though they comprise a majority of the current Jewish residents of Israel, Sephardim have always been a small minority within the American Jewish scene, their culture often ignored and their literary contribution minimized. Matza's exciting collection should rectify this, bringing us a rich array of talented and important writers too rarely included in the official Jewish canon: Ruth Behar, Victor Perera, Stanley Sultan, Ruth Knafo Setton, Herbert Hadad, Ammiel Alcalay, Jordan Elgrably, Rebecca Camhi Fromer, and many more." —Tikkun

A groundbreaking literary anthology reveals the nature and history of a lesser-known but vital branch of Jewish culture.

This collection of stories, poems, and plays by American Jews of Sephardic descent gives voice to a culture previously unheard in a literary canon with a predominantly Eastern European and Ashkenazic accent. Representing only five percent of US Jewish immigrants, Sephardim have necessarily existed on the margins of Jewish and American life. Yet these Jews of Spanish, Greek, and Middle Eastern origins have, as Diane Matza demonstrates, maintained their ethnic identity despite persecution, expulsion, and prolonged cultural insularity.

These selections, many available for the first time, span nearly three centuries and examine themes such as the centrality of family life, the pain of uprooting from established communities, collision between tradition and assimilation, roles and relationships of men and women, and the toxicity of self-hatred. Informed by sources ranging from biblical literature to historical events, oral traditions, classical poetics, the beat generation, and postmodern ironies, these works introduce a literature that, "though small on an absolute scale and little known, forces us to take a new critical perspective on Jewish American writing."

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DIANE MATZA is Professor of English at Utica College.

Tue, 11 Jul 2017 09:43:15 -0500