The man chided: "No Yiddish and no chess? What kind of Jew are you?" The answer is, a troubled one. Baruch Kotler, the central character in The Betrayers is on the run. He has been blackmailed, betrayed and has turned betrayer. He is in a mess.
David Bezmozgis is hard to categorise. Born in Riga, in Latvia, he grew up in Canada.
This is a revelatory exploration of Vladimir Jabotinsky, "father of the Israeli right". He has been projected as a colossus by Menachem Begin and succeeding generations of Likud leaders. The Zionist left, aided and abetted by David Ben-Gurion, depicted him as a neo-fascist.
In the catalogue of genocide and barbarism that was the Holocaust there were heartwarming instances of people and communities risking their lives to rescue Jews. One thinks of the rescue of Danish Jews, the work of Oskar Schindler and many other cases of individual bravery.
Amy Bloom's latest novel is the literary equivalent of sunlight on water - all dazzle and surprise. The surface story, set in 1940s America - of two young Jewish half-sisters thrown together by one mother's death and the other's defection - grabs you straight by the heart.
For about a decade, from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, Martin Amis was the best writer in Britain. Perhaps, apart from Philip Roth, then also at his height, the best writer in English. During these years, he wrote Money, London Fields and The Information. His prose crackled and snapped. He mixed dark and funny.
art hi-tech thriller, part mystical meditation, Dara Horn's A Guide for the Perplexed, takes Jewish fiction down a path far removed from what she calls "Shtetlworld" - that nostalgic literary genre evoking vanished Eastern Europe.
wenty years on, David Guterson is still best known for his first novel, Snow Falling on Cedars (1994), a huge bestseller that sold nearly four million copies. Though Guterson is Jewish ("We're just liberal, secular Americans with a little matzah on the side," he told the JC in 2011), his writing isn't.
Among the Parisiens of Yasmina Reza's outré and witty new novel, happiness is rare and random. But "novel" is not perhaps the mot juste as it's more a sheaf of monologues spoken by the assorted lovers, families, friends, patients, doctors and colleagues of a loosely-knit, largely Jewish, social group.