Thursday, March 31, 2011

Marge Piercy (March 31, 1936)

Marge Piercy's novel He, She, and It is about a golem-type entity in a computer some time in the near future. Many of its characters have a Jewish or Israeli identity, and the action takes place in partly-destroyed world after "the Two Week War a terrorist had launched with a nuclear device that had burned Jerusalem off the map, a conflagration of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons that had set the oilfields aflame and destroyed the entire region." I find the use of golem motifs in modern fiction to be very intriguing, and this is one of my favorite examples.

Piercy's other novels also often have interesting secular Jewish characters, such as City of Darkness, City of Light about the French Revolution and Gone to Soldiers about World War II. I'm very fond of the way she puts Jewish characters in the books naturally, without dedicating the book to Jewish themes and concerns. In fact, she might be one of the best writers when it comes to integrating characters who just happen to be assimilated Jews into an ordinary plot.

The only book by Piercy that disappointed me was Pesach for the Rest of Us, which talks about alternative Seders, but which I found rather disorganized and lacking in focus. This one, to my knowledge, is her only explicit Jewish book.

Overall, she's a really excellent secular Jewish author-hero!

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