Post-War Jewish Women’s Writing in French by Lucille Cairns

How have French Jewish women reacted to the great traumas of the last century — the Holocaust, North African decolonization and the resulting migration of African Jews to France, the Arab-Israeli crisis and the aftermath of 9/11? Cairns’s major new volume identifies the themes of books by French Jewish women from 1945 to the present day, gauging to what extent they are dominated by, informed by, or relatively indifferent to these threatening events. Thirty authors in particular serve as representatives of a great, and greatly diverse, pool: divided not only as Ashkenazim or Sephardim, but by origins scattered across Algeria, Egypt, Germany, Hungary, Morocco, Poland, Romania, Russia, Tunisia, and Turkey. Theirs is a transnational, doubly diasporic, and thus particularly complex paradigm in which feminism, loyalty to family culture and to the traditions of Judaism often exists in tension with French Republican models of assimilation, non-differentiation, and gender-blindness.

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