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Writing about crypto Jews: questions to ponder

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I am becoming more aware of fictional works, already published or in progress, that are based on stories, past or present, historical or imaginative, that have to do with crypto Jews. These fall into three categories: (1) those based on historical figures who once moved among us; (2) works with totally fictional characters, created by the authors; and (3) autobiographical novels based on real people in one’s family or community.
This plethora of literature about those who have been forced to, or choose to, hide their religious identities leads one to ponder several questions. Should these works be evaluated with the same literary standards applied to works with other themes? Are there sensitivities and awarenesses that writers need before tackling this subject? This question is particularly sensitive in the case of works coming under category (3), above. Should we read autobiography with more attention to what we learn about the people and their challenges than with efforts to examine literary quality? In the case of category (2), above, are such authors “culture vultures,” who exploit the topic like any other because it makes good stories, or does the work have redeeming social value even so? In the case of category (1), is it all right to fill in the blanks about real people who once lived when facts on their real-life dramas are sparse? Even when these people have iconic historical status?
Do you have some answers or some more questions for us to ponder?


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