Differences

A novel by Nathan Mayer.

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WeIland, in contrast, demonstrates that Jewish masculinity can be everything and more than its non-Jewish counterpart--while the novel, with its approving commentary on intermarriage (as long as the non-Jewish partner converts!) and on the vigorousJewish participation in the nation's bloodiest and most consequential war, suggests Mayer's hopefulness about the future of Jews in the United States.

Further reading

Very little information on Mayer has survived; even academics haven't devoted much attention to him. He mayor may not have modeled the surgeon who makes a cameo in Differences on himself. An entry in the Norton Anthology of Jewish American Literature offers a few details about Mayer's life, as well as an excerpt from another one of his novels, a historical romance called The Fatal Secret (1858). Those interested in the history of the period can consult Bertram W. Korri's American Jewry and the Civil War (1951) or the edited letters of a real-life Jewish Civil War colonel published under the title Your True Marcus (1985). A much more recent historical novel, Peter Melman's Landsman (2007), features the wartime experiences of a Jew from New Orleans, and if you have a high tolerance for sentimentality, also seek out Belva Plain's Crescent City (1984).

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Josh Lambert

Josh Lambert is Dorot Assistant Professor/Faculty Fellow in the Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University and the author of American Jewish Fiction: A JPS Guide (2009).