Joshua Cohen’s “The Netanyahus,” a comic and rigorous campus novel based on the true story of the father of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seeking a job in academia, has won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.
Benzion Netanyahu, who died in 2012 at the age of 102, was a medieval historian and ultra-nationalist who taught at several prestigious American schools, including the University of Denver and Cornell University.
Cohen’s “The Netanyahus” is set around 1959-60 and centers on a Jewish historian at a university loosely based on Cornell who is asked to help decide whether to hire the visiting Israeli scholar.
The novel, subtitled “An Account of a Minor and Ultimately Even Negligible Episode in the History of a Very Famous Family,” has been highly praised for its blend of wit and intellectual debate about Zionism and Jewish identity -- itself a flashpoint of heated debate among Israeli society.
“It is an infuriating, frustrating, pretentious piece of work — and also absorbing, delightful, hilarious, breathtaking and the best and most relevant novel I’ve read in what feels like forever,” The New York Times’ Taffy Brodesser-Akner wrote last June.
Many of the winners in the arts Monday were explorations of race and class, in the past and the present,