On Thursday, November 3rd, Stockton’s Literature program hosted the Stephen Dunn Reading Series sponsored by The Murphy Writing Center. There, 2022 Pulitzer Prize winner and novelist Joshua Cohen read from his award-winning book, The Netanyahus, and talked about the motivations behind writing this book.
Joshua Cohen is a South Jersey native who grew up and settled around the Atlantic and Cape May counties. For over a decade, Cohen has written numerous books such as Moving Kings, Witz, Book of Numbers, and many others.
Cohen spoke a lot about the inspirations for this book from his talks with Harold Bloom and his wife Jeanne to the reactions the book received while he was in Israel. The Netanyahus is a cohesive mix of fiction and nonfiction in which Cohen derives details from his conversations with Bloom while his health was failing. Cohen recalls that Bloom had met Netanyahu while his family was in the U.S. living in Philadelphia.
Unfortunately, Bloom passed away in the short time he and Cohen spent talking, and Cohen was faced with deciding how to use the stories he had recorded in his work. Thus The Netanyahus was written and Cohen ran with the stories from Harold and Jeanne to create this mix of fact and fiction.
When the announcement was made that Cohen’s novel won the 2022 Pulitzer Prize, he was in Israel where he watched a very different reaction take place about his book than in the U.S.; People in Israel took the book in a more literal sense, whereas there was not such a tough perspective on the book in America. This led to some interesting press in Israel with tough questions that required further explanation of the book, but Cohen ran with the media frenzy behind the award to have some great conversations about history and literature.
The late poet and professor Stephen Dunn started this series back in the fall of 1974 to bring students closer to the local writing community. The Murphy Writing Center is a proud sponsor of these events in collaboration with the Literature and General Studies programs. The Murphy Writing Center offers various writing and poetry workshops throughout the year which can be found on their website. Anyone interested in buying Cohen’s books can look to local bookstores or Amazon to order a copy.