Writing Jewish: A Discussion with Nicole Krauss and Joshua Cohen

By :  Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary Posted On Apr 25, 2022 / 5782 | Author Conversations: Between the Lines

Part of JTS’s Opening Season

Jews have always been writers of books—from books for Jews with self-consciously Jewish content to books with no obvious Jewish consciousness directed toward the general reading public. But there are also authors who create worlds filled with Jews (and others) who embody human experiences with a Jewish twist for readers of all kinds. Two of the most outstanding such contemporary writers are Joshua Cohen and Nicole Krauss, who joined JTS Professor and Librarian David Kraemer to discuss what it means to “write Jewish” in today’s world.


Joshua Cohen was born in 1980 in Atlantic City. His books include the novels The NetanyahusMoving KingsBook of NumbersWitzA Heaven of Others, and Cadenza for the Schneidermann Violin Concerto; the short fiction collection Four New Messages, and the nonfiction collection Attention: Dispatches from a Land of Distraction. Called “a major American writer” by the New York Times and “an extraordinary prose stylist, surely one of the most prodigious at work in American fiction today” by the New Yorker, Cohen was awarded Israel’s 2013 Matanel Prize for Jewish Writers, and in 2017 was named one of Granta’s Best Young American Novelists. In 2022, he received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Jewish Book Award for Fiction for The Netanyahus.


Nicole Krauss is the author of the international bestsellers Forest DarkGreat House, a finalist for the National Book Award and the Orange Prize; and The History of Love, which won the Saroyan Prize for International Literature and France’s Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger. To Be a Man, her first collection of short stories, was published in November 2020 and is shortlisted for the Wingate Prize.