This work of creative non-fiction explores a period in the life of the author, when he had newly moved to London. It focuses on how the author attempted to understand his ancestors' experience of migration to the East End - the space refuses to disclose its histories, and yet, in the British Library, he unexpectedly finds evidence of his great-grandfather's representative life. The essay concludes in the Linwood Cemetery in Christchurch, NZ.
Pagination10 - 19
PublisherOtago University Press
Place of publicationDunedin, New Zealand
Recognition, awards & prizesWinner of the Landfall Essay Competition 2021 (note that this is under embargo until the end of November)
Research statement‘The New Man’ addresses the nature of diasporic Jewish identity, drawing on my own family and experiences to explore the vexed ways in which history makes claims on how we understand ourselves. While much writing about Jewishness tends to solidify the sense that we do indeed best orientate ourselves in relation to those histories, my creative non-fictional work is more skeptical of this claim – what if loss remains lost, and gives over to no determinate sense of who we are? Through research in the British Library archives of histories of Jews in Britain, interwar antisemitic works, and travel to the East End of London, I write of finding an unexpected figure shimmering into view – my great-grandfather, who I call the luftmensch paterfamilias. What results is an ambivalent set of thoughts about the bearing Jewishness has on my life. In the graveyard at the end of the piece, I find my other forebears in the Linwood Cemetery in Christchurch, and reflect that this process of moving from east to west has given at least some level of peace – for them and for me. The work won New Zealand’s most prestigious essay prize, the Landfall Essay Prize (news under embargo until late November). The prize attracts around 80 entries each year. The essay is published in the November 2021 issue of New Zealand’s longest-running literary journal, Landfall. I have also uploaded a Q+A that I wrote for the media release, which will be later this month.
Publication classificationJO3 Original Creative Works – Textual Work