Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another

thescroll_header

Men of Mystery

One the eve of the release of his 11th book, spy novelist Alan Furst reflects on his sources of inspiration and his cerebral and wordly—if not always Jewish—protagonists

Print Email

  Alan Furst’s bestselling spy novels depict the secret allegiances and betrayals that animated interwar and wartime Europe, but what distinguishes his work from others who’ve toiled in the genre is the attention he pays to the flavor of everyday life. Amid the forged documents and concealed identities, he still manages to conjure things like the meal a well-to-do couple traveling through the Belgian countryside might have eaten in1941: radishes, salted beef tongue, “some kind of white, waxy cheese,” dried winter apples, and a loaf of bread.

In Furst’s latest, Spies of the Balkans, he introduces us to Constantine “Costa” Zannis, a high-level Salonika detective who, somewhat inadvertently, becomes one link in a chain of operatives shepherding Jews out of Germany. Vox Tablet’s Sara Ivry speaks to Furst, in his home in Sag Harbor, Long Island, about how, in 1986, a Django Reinhardt cassette led him to the time and place he’s written about ever since; about his upbringing on Manhattan’s Upper West Side; and about his attraction to unattached, intellectual heroes.

Print Email

COMMENTING CHARGES
Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180

WAIT, WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY TO COMMENT?
Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

I NEED TO BE HEARD! BUT I DONT WANT TO PAY.
Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at letters@tabletmag.com. Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.

Furst is right that the Soviet spies he wrote about were born Jewish but that doesn’t make them Jewish. They didn’t act as Jews and they didn’t act for Jews and they were also brutal towards Jews.

It’s wrong to see every person born from Jewish parents as a Jew.

Alexander Diamond says:

Really? How then do you “see” them, as Scientologists maybe?

Relax Diamond, they are what they said they were Bolsheviks.

When a born Jew embraces a different religion of cult he stops being a Jew.

These Bolsheviks treated their fellow Jews with extreme barbarism.

Try reading about what the Bolsheviks did to the Jewish communities (the shtetls) in the 1920 and 30’s.

They tended to be tougher on their own just to prove that they were good Bolsheviks.

Ironically, they were always under suspicion. You know “once a Yid……”

Still in their own eyes they were communists fighting to turn the world communist and not Jews.

Dear Friends:

Traditional Jewish law says that a person cannot forfeit Jewish identity no matter what causes or other religions they adopt or conduct that they engage in. The rule is: “even though a sinner, always a Jew.” A person may become a sinful Jew or a wicked Jew or an apostate Jew, but they are still a Jew.

Now Reform and Recon have tried to change that and treat Jews who convert “out,” etc. as “non-Jews” under their rules for affiliation, but I think it is an unwise decision. As long as a person is regarded as a Jew, there is always the possibility that they may return to the Jewish people.

“Traditional Jewish law says that a person cannot forfeit Jewish identity no matter what causes or other religions they adopt or conduct that they engage in. The rule is: “even though a sinner, always a Jew.” A person may become a sinful Jew or a wicked Jew or an apostate Jew, but they are still a Jew.”

You arw wrong, Jews in Spain who adopted Catholicism during the inquistion were ruled not to be Jews by Rabbis at that time.

What are we talking about here? “Who Is A Jew” or Alan Furst, the masterful novelist?

2000

Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

Men of Mystery

One the eve of the release of his 11th book, spy novelist Alan Furst reflects on his sources of inspiration and his cerebral and wordly—if not always Jewish—protagonists

More on Tablet:

11 Non-Jewish Celebrities—and 2 Jewish Ones—Show Off Their Hebrew Tattoos

By Marjorie Ingall — You don’t have to be Jewish to sport Hebrew ink. But some of these stars should have thought twice before going under the needle.