How to Play Jewball


Do Jews care about sports? The popular stereotype says no–Jews are too nerdy and bookish to chase after balls. But Neal Pollack, author, impresario, and occasional correspondent, has devoted the past two years of his life to subverting that notion.

His new novel Jewball is the fictionalized story of a lanky, athletic team of Jewish boys from South Philadelphia who have to deal with life’s challenges–but they really just want to play ball. The year is 1937, and the players are working-class kids with immigrant parents, trying to meet the social demands of being American teenagers. Meanwhile, fascism is gaining popular appeal among white working-class Americans
–especially in Pennsylvania, with its large German population.

Jewball is a period piece, and the author has definitely done his homework (“I’m obsessed,” he says of the era, and the subject matter), but Pollack’s writing is quick, snappy, and fiery–more colorful, and certainly a bit more racy, than most historical fiction that crosses our desk.

Recommended from JTA