Why There Is No Jewish Narnia

The Jewish Review of Books has an article entitled Why There Is No Jewish Narnia which is one-part essay and one part review of the novels The Magicians (by Lev Grossman) and Ha-Mayim  she-bein  ha-olamot (The  Water  Between  the  Worlds) (Hagar Yanai). Here’s an excerpt:

Indeed, one wonders why, amidst all the initiatives to solve the crisis in Jewish continuity, no one has yet proposed commissioning a Jewish fantasy series that might plumb the theological depths like Lewis or at least thrill Jewish preteens with tales of Potterish derring-do. Granted, popularity is rarely cooked to order and religious allegory sometimes backfires (a mother once wrote Lewis that her nine year old son had guiltily confessed to loving Aslan the lion more than Jesus). But still, what non-electronic phenomenon has held the attention of more children (and not a few adults) during the last ten years, than Rowling’s tales of Hogwarts? And, as Tom Shippey has shown in Tolkien: Author of the Century, the Lord of the Rings trilogy consistently tops readers’ polls of their most beloved books. Why the apparent aversion to producing such well-received books by the People of the Book?

3 thoughts on “Why There Is No Jewish Narnia

  1. Don’cha just love utter rubbish? Simply off the top of my head:
    Robert Silverbergl; Esther Freisner; Peter Davison; Michael Burstein; Neil Gaiman; Marge Piercy (great grand-daughter of a Rabbi); Peter Beagle; and Michael Chabon (by pure coincidence I have been reading Gentleman of the Road, set in the ninth century kingdom of the Kazars and, as he says in a post-script “Jews with Swords”, all day today).

    I am sure others will add more.

  2. Well, of course there’s Lavie Tidhar, Nir Yaniv and Guy Hasson.
    And if the wonderful Etgar Keret’s stories aren’t exactly high fantasy, they couldn’t be mistaken for mimetic fiction…

    It seems true that there are more Jews in science fiction than fantasy. Many of them also wrote/write some fantasy, like Silverberg and also Isaac Asimov, Avram Davidson, and how about Harlan Ellison?

    Then there’s Cory Doctorow (Someone Comes To Town, Someone Leaves Town, and some short stories are fantasy), and heaps more I can’t think of right now (I read a lot more sf than fantasy). Charlie Stross may baulk at being accused of writing fantasy 🙂

    And, it could be argued, all the pioneers of US comics…

  3. I was thinking, why specifically Narnia? Of course Jews aren’t going to write secondary worlds that are recognizably like Narnia. The concept of fantasy in the article is pretty limiting to begin with.

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