Putting the "Jewish" Back in "Jewish American Fiction": A Look at Jewish American Fiction from 1977 to 2002 and an Allegorical Reading of Nathan Englander's "The Gilgul of Park Avenue"
- Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies
- University of Nebraska Press
- Volume 22, Number 3, Spring 2004
- pp. 104-120
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The Jewish American literary renaissance of the last two decades has been sparked largely by an overt concern with Jewishness on the part of a younger group of writers. These writers confirm sociologist Marcus Lee Hansen's theory of third generation return, the idea that grandsons will want to remember parts of their grandparents' lives that the fathers have wanted to forget, in this case their Jewishness. Such third generation return can be seen in the works of Michael Chabon, Allegra Goodman, Rebecca Goldstein, and Tova Reich, among others, and the phenomenon is depicted allegorically in Nathan Englander's short story "The Gilgul of Park Avenue." The transformation undergone by the main character of Englander's text, Charles Luger, who suddenly realizes that he has been masquerading as a WASP but is really a Jew, can be seen as a representation of the historical trajectory of Jewish American literature itself.