I have a fascination for what I’ve begun to call “Jewish books”. A new one out recently is The Night of the Burning by Linda Press Wulf. It’s unusual in that it’s not a World War II story and it’s not about Germany.
This book deals with the persecution of Jews in Poland in the early twenties, with flashbacks to the first World War and the years just after. Linda’s story about two orphaned sisters, Devorah and Nechama, tells of their journey from their Polish orphanage to their new homes in South Africa, as well as explaining what happened to their family before they were orphaned.
I find it hard to decide whether this really is a children’s book. It clearly appeals to the adults who have read it, but I would hope children will also read the book and learn from it. With modern hindsight it’s interesting to see South Africa as a haven for poor Europeans, and it’s certainly taught me things.
Can we have too many of this type of story? I’ve seen suggestions that the Jewish market is full and writers should look elsewhere. But we are not tired of love or crime or magic, so the idea that a genre can be too full seems a silly one.