Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Baddiel on Jewish Book Week

With predictable levity, comedian-turned-novelist David Baddiel expresses frustration with Jewish Book Week. He thinks it limits the universal appeal of books with Jewish themes. It's quite clear they aren't part of the British mainstream. Baddiel observes that
We are happy to appropriate certain minorities as representing our national voice, as long as they are thought of as cool, oppressed and part of the multicultural texture of modern Britain: which frankly Jews ... are not.

So, if you write a book with a Jewish theme in this country, the goys don’t buy it.
He's probably right, but probably for the wrong reasons. Over the years, I've been impressed by the range and seriousness of Jewish Book Week. It is hard to imagine the Hay-on-Wye or Cheltenham festivals offering up such attractive programmes. They tend toward the author-as-celeb. The reason why Jewish Book Week seems to Baddiel "to represent a niche market" is probably due to Britain's almost-terminally philistine culture. Thank (the Jewish) God for small mercies.

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