Novelist Horn draws upon her travels, research andfamily life to assert the vitality, complexity and depth of Jewish life against an antisemitism that—far from being disarmed by the mantra of "Never forget"—is on the rise.
Reading Dara Horn’s People Love Dead Jews, I could feel the words coming back to me, as if I were reacquiring a language. Not a new language, in which you must learn a vocabulary and grasp the rules of grammar. But as in Platonic epistemology, where learning is essentially a recollection, I felt as if I were recollecting, retrieving something I had been asked to forget ... her book is at the same time so necessary and so disquieting ... an outstanding book with a bold mission. It criticizes people, artworks and public institutions that few others dare to challenge. Reading this book, I started to find the words I should have said to that woman in Motal. I should have responded that maybe Eastern Europe has been left with a void, but I have been left with hardly any family.
Some essay collections are just compilations, an opportunity for readers to hold in one hand articles by favorite authors. Less often a compilation becomes a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts. This is one of those unexpected, memorable books ... Horn...is a master at making connections to the Jewish past ... She ends this riveting, gorgeously written book as Jews have done across the millennia: by engaging the past, embracing the present and facing toward the future.
... as disquieting as the book may be, it’s also extremely well-written and engaging, sustained throughout by Horn’s inimitably intelligent and lively voice ... The dead Jews Horn writes about—and the ways they are remembered, particularly in the media and popular culture—aren’t limited to Holocaust victims or those targeted in Pittsburgh or Poway or Jersey City. The book interweaves its chapters on those subjects with others. One of my favorites is Horn’s dispatch from Harbin, China, which once boasted a thriving Jewish community and now sustains a Jewish population of one—alongside an unsettlingly artificial 'Jewish Heritage Site.' Ultimately, wherever Horn trains her ultra-keen eye, I’m willing to follow. You may be, too.