Page Turner

Open book resting on stack on books

March is a magnificent month for literature lovers, as kids across the country recently donned costumes for World Book Day and the Jewish Book Week Festival has also landed in London.

Page turning events and talks from the festival will still be taking place in Manchester on the 29th and 30th March.
So, to honour the main bulk of book action at the beginning of the month, as Jewish Book Week Festival events in the capital come to a close on March 5th, JLife recommends four underrated Jewish authors you may not have heard of.

So, put your Primo Levi down for now and pick up a book by one of these lesser known lights in the literary world…

Giorgio Bassani

Bologna-born Bassani was part of a prominent Jewish family in Ferrara, Italy, and his literary contributions focus strongly on the city and its identity, with several of his works coming to be known collectively as The Romance of Ferrara. His novels and short stories include themes of otherness, anti-Semitism and discrimination in fascist-era Italy, and Bassani himself was even arrested during Benito Mussolini’s reign.

Notable Bassani stories that were adapted to film include The Garden of the Finzi-Continis and The Gold Rimmed Spectacles, both of which highlight the persecution of outsiders, with the latter a particularly evocative and tragic narrative surrounding an ostracised doctor. Bassani was also involved in publishing iconic Italian novel The Leopard, by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa.

James Salter
American scribe Salter, also known as James Arnold Horowitz, is widely regarded as one of his generation’s most underrated authors. The wordsmith’s most widely regarded works include A Sport and a Pastime, the story of an affair between an American college dropout and a French woman

Alberto Moravia
An Italian novelist, journalist and playwright of Jewish heritage, Moravia is known for penning tales of disillusionment with conventional life. Much of his creative output was stifled and censored by Mussolini’s facist regime, with several stories banned or seized, leading the author to adopt a surrealist style. Nominated 13 times for the Nobel Prize in Literature, Moravia’s most familiar novel is arguably The Conformist, which explores the life of a government official who yearns for normality.

Anzia Yezierska
Yezierska’s status as a Poland-born Jewish immigrant in the United States clearly influenced her writing, which largely focused on the struggles of assimilation. The Breadgivers is her best known novel and concerns the trials of a young and independent Jewish female immigrant growing up with an Orthodox rabbi father in 1920s New York.