I will never ever read a publication called the Jewish Review of Books on the general principal that there are too many subsidies for circumsized middlebrow conservative philistines, and this Michael Weingrad essay is a perfect example of why I’m not updating my RSS reader:
[W]hy don’t Jews write more fantasy literature? And a different, deeper but related question: why are there no works of modern fantasy that are profoundly Jewish in the way that, say, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is Christian? Why no Jewish Lewises, and why no Jewish Narnias?
His name is Michael Chabon, you fool. Or Jonathan Lethem. Or, as my friend Sam Goldman insightfully observes, perhaps you ought to pick up a superhero comic. Practically every iconic superhero was created by Jews. Wrap your mind around two Jews, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, creating an invincible hero called Superman in 1932.
Probably more accurately, the Jewish CS Lewises are named Stan “Stanley Lieber” Lee and Jack “Jacob Kurtzberg” Kirby. Weingrad is asking the wrong question if he wants a one-to-one transposal of the Christian Lewis to Jewish creators, who are less likely to create direct parables because an impulse to convert doesn’t exist in Judaism, but questions of justice, power and responsibility — stuff that concerns Jews, I hear — are central to the Marvel Universe. Back when Jews still lived in urban enclaves, Lee and Kirby created the Thing, the first Jewish superhero (and probably the first Jew in space), to bring the ersatz-Lower East Side values of “Yancy Street” to the gentile masses and give the Yancy Street kids a relatable hero to look up to — the world scorned him for his appearance, but he was brave and strong and moral and had more heart than anyone. I don’t need to explain the civil rights allegory of the X-Men, but you could make quite the engaging Haggadah out of the “Days of Future Past” storyline. If it’s young-adult fiction you want, practically nothing will get kids into the habit of reading, and reading passionately, than comic books.