Pulitzer Book Club Inclusion Guide
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"The Netanyahus" by Joshua Cohen
• Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson appointed to Supreme Court
• U.S. support of Ukrainians includes ban of Russian oil
• Politico outs conservative decision to overturn Roe v. Wade
Literary critic Harold Bloom told author Joshua Cohen about Benzion Netanyahu’s awkward interview trip to Cornell. Benzion Netanyahu, a who was a legit scholar and authority on the Spanish Inquisition, was hired as a professor of Judiac studies at Cornell. Benzion was the father of prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Cohen invented the details of the Netanyahu’s trip to Upstate New York in his novel, including penis-flicking by the future Israeli prime minister.
Featured Reader Wanted!
– Share your key take-away about inclusion in this book in a sentence or two.
– Write a paragraph or two (up to 250 words) to describe your thoughts on exclusion/inclusion in the book, why you related or did not connect with the book, and why you think reading, inclusion and dialog about inclusion matter.
– Identify the name and website address of a cause you support with an inclusive mission.
Jewish professor hosts nightmare Israeli job candidate and his unexpected family.
Nose job precipitated by doorknob.
Satire about Jewish identity and academia with pop up lectures on Zionism and the Spanish Inquisition.
Mostly a quick read at 248 Pages or 8.5 listening hours with plenty of laughs. Satirical professorial ramblings can feel like a class you wished you cut.
Beware of revisionists, including history teachers with an agenda and people who stand in the way of quality education.
Novel set in the WASP male world of the 1960-1961 academic year. Narrator is the college’s only Jewish professor, so naturally he is expected to dress as Santa and serve on a hiring committee because the top candidate is Israeli. Women are in the kitchen, taking care of children, and shelving books in the library. The narrator reflects that students later in his career were “sophomoric Savonarolas, finding fault with nearly every remark, finding bigotry and prejudice everywhere.”
Provide an excessive quantity of martinis accompanied by stale Christmas cookies. Create a gingerbread replica of your house as a centerpiece knowing it will be desecrated by ill-mannered, unwelcome guests. Be sure only women do all cooking, serving, and clean up.
“If you decide to go and hire this Jew, they’ll say Jewish favoritism. If you decide not to go and hire this Jew, they’ll say you’re trying to avoid the appearance of Jewish favoritism.”
Pick between letting loose in a fussy antiquarian’s home, finding adjoining rooms in an overbooked hotel on a football weekend, and pregaming in some dismal college space before attending a lecture by a super-pompous, boring, wrong-headed professor after trudging through snow in flimsy footwear.
What Jewish stereotypes propel the story?
How are stereotypes unmasked/debunked?
Discuss the relative importance of appearance and communications style on perception.
How do the roles and behavior of women in this novel fit with your image of women in the 1960s?
How is humor used to spotlight prejudice, racism, and snobbery?
What is this novel’s take on academics and how academia shapes views?
Which historical references or dialog helped you better understand Jewish history or the Inquisition in Iberia?
What is revisionism and how does it foment exclusion?
Give examples of manipulation and capitulation versus viable inclusive strategies.
What’s your point of view on the reference to people “becoming intolerable because of finding fault with nearly every remark, finding bigotry and prejudice everywhere.”
Go to The International Museum of Surgical Science Chicago if they ever do a rhinoplasty exhibit.
Enjoy the feel-good charms of the Museum of the Inquisition if you happen to be in Lima, Peru.
If you’re not up for a trek to The Friends of Zion Museum in Jerusalem, visit the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History, a Smithsonian affiliate, in Philadelphia, The Jewish Museum on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and the Jewish Children’s Museum in Brooklyn. Then go Upstate (not to New England) to visit Cornell.
You can find Joshua Cohen talking about his novels on You Tube, but you won’t find film or TV adaptations of any of his novels – yet.
Attention: Dispatches from a Land of Distraction (2018), Moving Kings (2017), Book of Numbers (2015), Four New Messages (2012), Witz (2010), A Heaven of Others (2008), Cadenza for the Schneidermann Violin Concerto (2007).