Additional Book Information
Series: New York Review Books
Publication Date: June 22, 2021
The NetanyahusAn Account of a Minor and Ultimately Even Negligible Episode in the History of a Very Famous Family
by Joshua Cohen
Corbin College, not quite upstate New York, winter 1959–1960: Ruben Blum, a Jewish historian—but not an historian of the Jews—is co-opted onto a hiring committee to review the application of an exiled Israeli scholar specializing in the Spanish Inquisition. When Benzion Netanyahu shows up for an interview, family unexpectedly in tow, Blum plays the reluctant host to guests who proceed to lay waste to his American complacencies. Mixing fiction with nonfiction, the campus novel with the lecture, The Netanyahus is a wildly inventive, genre-bending comedy of blending, identity, and politics that finds Joshua Cohen at the height of his powers.
No one writing in English today is more gifted than Joshua Cohen. Every page of The Netanyahus—an historical account of a man left out of history, a wickedly funny fable of the return of the repressed—crackles with Cohen’s high style and joyride intelligence.
A domestic sitcom farce, a ferocious academic sendup. And also, in contrast to an entire generation of fastidious timidities (Doctorow, Mailer, et al.), a rousing lecture on Jewish history leading to Zionism. . . . The drive to quarrel with a character is only one of the delights of Cohen’s shrewd, exuberant, exhilarating and merry novel.
Cohen is an extraordinary prose stylist, surely one of the most prodigious in American fiction today. . . . A crystalline novelist with a journalistic openness to the world.
—James Wood, The New Yorker
Cohen's writing is vibrant even when ruminating on esoteric details on Jewish identity theories. . . . This blistering portrait is great fun.
Cohen’s new book is among his best: a fastidious and very funny book that is one of the most purely pleasurable works of fiction I’ve read in ages.
—Jon Day, Financial Times