Joshua Cohen wrote his 2021 novel "The Netanyahus" after a conversation with literary critic and university professor Harold Bloom. Bloom told Cohen of the time he interviewed Benzion Netanyahu for a professorship at Cornell. Cohen took the story, filled in some gaps with his imagination, replaced Bloom's with a fictional character named "Ruben Blum," replaced Cornell with the fictional Corbin College, and the rest is history. Or at least historical fiction.
The Netanyahu of the novel is loud and arrogant and condescending and rude and demands respect. But he is also thoughtful and intelligent when lecturing to an audience or describing his philosophy. He arrives at the Blum home with his wife and three children, and the five of them bring chaos with which the unassuming Blum cannot deal.
The book is more about Blum, who is awkward and trying to establish his life and academic career. His daughter and wife resent him; his parents and in-laws criticize everything from his home decor to his decision to move out of New York; and the faculty at Corbin College patronizes him with microaggressions as the only Jewish person on staff.
Cohen's writings are reminiscent of Vladimir Nabokov and Philip Roth. Like Nabokov, he places his characters in absurd situations and portrays dark humor in their attempts to navigate those situations. Cohen's characters echo Roth's, as his Jewish immigrants alternately assimilate into American society and loudly retain their European heritage. In one scene, Blum's mother-in-law chastises Blum while her husband struggles loudly with his gastrointestinal issues behind a bathroom door. This scene could have been written by Roth.
Cohen tells his story with humor and intelligence. I do not know how much is true, but I know that I enjoyed it.