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The politics of identity: cultural appropriation and black-Jewish Relations in Zoe Heller’s 'The Believers'

Brauner, D. (2018) The politics of identity: cultural appropriation and black-Jewish Relations in Zoe Heller’s 'The Believers'. Jewish Culture and History. ISSN 1462-169X (In Press)

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Abstract/Summary

This essay offers an allegorical reading of Zoe Heller’s novel The Believers (2008), situating the novel in terms of the history of Black-Jewish relations in the US and in terms of recent debates about identity politics and cultural appropriation. Set primarily in the context of post-9/11 New York in 2002, the novel centres on the fractious relationships between the immediate and extended family of a radical left-wing lawyer, Joel Litvinoff, as they struggle to come to terms with the sudden stroke that leaves him in a coma, and with the complex legacy that he leaves behind. The essay begins by considering the implications of the ambivalent critical reception of the novel and ends by suggesting that The Believers can be read as both a critique (of certain kinds) and an implicit defence (of certain other kinds) of cultural appropriation.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Literature and Languages > English Literature
Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Minority Identities
ID Code:81231
Publisher:Taylor & Francis

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