Why is this (K)night Different: Passover, Blood, War, and the Conflict Between Jewish and American Identity in Jo Sinclair’s Wasteland and Dara Horn’s All Other Nights

Ohad Reznick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

For hundreds of years, non-Jews have accused Jews of dual identity. Living in the diaspora, Jews were often accused of loyalty to their own religion or people, which sometimes collided with allegiance to the country they lived in. In the U.S. Americans sometimes suspected Jews of preferring their own well-being when having a conflict of interests. In times of war, American non-Jews sometimes perceived Jews as unpatriotic, evading drafts or profiteers. Jews, for their part, highlighted their contribution to America, minimizing their own differences. However, among themselves, they sometimes struggled with a clash between their two identities. This paper analyzes two Jewish American novels that take place during wars–Jo Sinclair’s Wasteland and Dana Horn’s All Other Nights. While the former is set in WWII and the latter in the Civil War, both dramatize the conflict between American and Jewish identity. Examining the tropes of war, blood, and Passover, shared by both novels, I demonstrate that whereas Wasteland sweeps anti-Semitism under the carpet, depicting the conflict as easy to resolve and embracing the army, All Other Nights accentuates the clash between Jewishness and Americanness especially through the army, raising questions about American Jewry which are extremely relevant today.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCritique - Studies in Contemporary Fiction
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2024
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Literature and Literary Theory

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