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Disobedience (review)

Disobedience (review) Disobedience, by Naomi Alderman. New York: Touchstone, 2006. 240 pp. $24.00 (c); $14.00 (p). Until recently, a major narrative strain in Jewish literature was the bildungsroman, in which a young person realizes that he (less frequently, she) must repudiate the traditional Jewish community in which he was raised because its religious injunctions thwart his ambitions. Anger at the perceived narrowness of the Orthodox world is, at times, mixed with some regret at what is lost in escaping its confines. Disobedience, British novelist Naomi Alderman's debut novel, marches in the opposite direction of this classic bildungsroman. We join the action after the protagonist's break from Orthodoxy, and the narrative moves toward reconciliation with tradition rather than rupture. The novel does direct anger and bitterness at Orthodoxy's constraints, but these are more than balanced by an appreciation for the beauty and power of living according to Jewish law. The work suggests two courses for reconciling religious observance with individual desire, courses that strike me--though not the characters who embark on them--as unsatisfying in the long run. The death of the aged rabbi of a small shul in London's Orthodox Hendon district sets in motion a complicated chain of events. The http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies Purdue University Press

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Publisher
Purdue University Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 Purdue University
ISSN
1534-5165
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Disobedience, by Naomi Alderman. New York: Touchstone, 2006. 240 pp. $24.00 (c); $14.00 (p). Until recently, a major narrative strain in Jewish literature was the bildungsroman, in which a young person realizes that he (less frequently, she) must repudiate the traditional Jewish community in which he was raised because its religious injunctions thwart his ambitions. Anger at the perceived narrowness of the Orthodox world is, at times, mixed with some regret at what is lost in escaping its confines. Disobedience, British novelist Naomi Alderman's debut novel, marches in the opposite direction of this classic bildungsroman. We join the action after the protagonist's break from Orthodoxy, and the narrative moves toward reconciliation with tradition rather than rupture. The novel does direct anger and bitterness at Orthodoxy's constraints, but these are more than balanced by an appreciation for the beauty and power of living according to Jewish law. The work suggests two courses for reconciling religious observance with individual desire, courses that strike me--though not the characters who embark on them--as unsatisfying in the long run. The death of the aged rabbi of a small shul in London's Orthodox Hendon district sets in motion a complicated chain of events. The

Journal

Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish StudiesPurdue University Press

Published: Feb 13, 2009

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