Joshua Cohen’s latest book blends fact and fiction to give ‘An Account of A Minor and Ultimately Even Negligible Episode in the History of a Very Famous Family’. The year is 1959, and at Corbin College in New York academic Ruben Blum finds himself playing reluctant host to a visiting Israeli historian, a specialist in the Spanish Inquisition, who has unexpectedly arrived with his family in tow. The historian is the hawkish Benzion Netanyahu, and the family includes his 10-year-old son Benjamin, future Prime Minister of Israel. The resulting conflict of cultures and world views is comically played out in the format of a very unconventional campus novel.
Joshua Cohen is the author of five previous novels, including Moving Kings and Book of Numbers, which was described by Harold Bloom as ‘shatteringly powerful’ and as one of the four best books by Jewish writers in America. He was in conversation about his work with novelist, essayist and regular contributor to the LRB Colm Tóibín.