Allegra Goodman's fiction revolves around the inevitable collisions between American and Jewish identities. For Goodman's characters, the seductions of American life and the language of contemporary cultural icons eclipse an ever-eroding sense of Jewish history and identity. Goodman's characters, not unlike other characters in contemporary American Jewish fiction, are torn between a desire to return to orthodoxy, to Jewish law and ritual, and to break from what they believe to be the marginalizing superstitions of a mythic Jewish past. Goodman, with characteristic satiric and parodic commentary, creates a seemingly irreconcilable conflict for her characters, who fear the loss of Jewish identity and yet fear also its embrace. For Goodman, much of this ambivalence toward Jewish history and identity is generational, and she contrasts the generational responses—immigrant, first-generation American-born, and the children of those post-war, upwardly mobile, urbane American Jews—to the possibilities for a reinvention of Judaism in contemporary American culture.

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pp. 12-25
Launched on MUSE
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