Adam Kirsch

August 05, 2009

The pun in the title of Israel Is Real, the new book by Rich Cohen, is silly but not meaningless. The problem of reality, and how to distinguish it from fantasy, fear, and hope, has been with the Zionist project since the very beginning.

Disturbances of Peace
May 20, 2009

Classical Chinese Poetry: An Anthology Translated and edited by David Hinton (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 475 pp., $45) Du Fu: A Life in Poetry Translated by David Young (Knopf, 226 pp., $16.95) The oldest poems translated in David Hinton’s magnificent anthology Classical Chinese Poetry date to the fifteenth century B.C.E., long before the Bible was written. For the English-speaking world, however, this ancient art is effectively less than a hundred years old.

American As Apple Pie
March 03, 2009

Speaking of Jews: Rabbis, Intellectuals, and the Creation of an American Public Identity, the innovative and deeply researched new book by Lila Corwin Berman, put me in mind of an old joke about elephants. As the story goes, scientists from around the world were gathering at a conference to present their research on elephants.

Eastern Exposure
February 17, 2009

That the State of Israel has an ethnicity problem is the opposite of news: hardly a day goes by without some report on the hostilities between Jews and Arabs. But We Look Like the Enemy, the impassioned, often self-righteous new book by Rachel Shabi, draws the reader's attention to an easily overlooked dimension of that old conflict. What if you are an Israeli Jew who is also, in some ways, an Arab?

Disputations: Still The Most Dangerous Philosopher In The West
January 07, 2009

I am happy to hear that some of Slavoj Zizek’s best friends are Jews--though I wonder if any of them have evinced discomfort at remarks like the one I quoted: “Typical Jews!

The Deadly Jester
December 02, 2008

In Defense of Lost Causesby Slavoj Žižek(Verso, 504 pp., $34.95)Violenceby Slavoj Žižek(Picador, 272 pp., $14)I.Last year the Slovenian philosopher SlavojŽižek published a piece in The New York Times deploring America's use of torture to extract a co

Over Easy
October 29, 2001

Sailing Alone Around the Room: New and Selected Poems by Billy Collins (Random House, 172 pp., $21.95) The associated press report of Billy Collins's appointment as poet laureate in June was a document of startling philistinism. Under the headline "Popular Poet Named U.S. Laureate," it began: "Billy Collins, a popular poet who makes money at the job, is becoming the 11th U.S.