Sandee Brawarsky is the Worst Book Critic of Her Generation

She writes 4/28/06 for The Jewish Week about novelist Allegra Goodman: "She’s been applauded for her luminous style..."

What is a luminous style?

Sandee Brawarsky writes in The Jewish Week 2/4/05:

“I’m not judging the level of observance of these authors; I’m just trying to present a different perspective from someone who has been both an insider and an outsider,” [Wendy Shalit] wrote. “To me, the strongest novels are the ones that portray an ideal to live up to, not just people’s failings.”

When asked to comment on criticism of her blurred distinctions between literature and journalism or sociology, she says, “The problem is that these books are sold as ‘authentic’ portrayals of Orthodox life, and also reviewed as such — therefore I think it’s a fair question to ask: How authentic are these portraits, really?” She explains that she wrote the essay “to spark a discussion, so it’s healthy that we’re having this debate now in the Jewish world,” she says, adding, “We’re at a very exciting moment in American Jewish fiction because the monopoly of the Ortho-bashers is ending.”

Does she have interest in writing fiction? “Perhaps someday.”

Sam Tanenhaus, editor of the Book Review, explains that the piece grew out of a review Shalit wrote that seemed more essay than review, so she was asked to recast it into a longer piece. “Her argument struck us as one that was interesting and provocative, which doesn’t mean we agree with her. Wendy has an unusual voice; she comes to literary matters from a more philosophical point of view.”