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From The CriticsOzick is an essayist who educates and challenges rather than seduces. While she can dazzle with her intellect and language, her essays are more learned than entertaining. I am not always eager to begin an Ozick essay, yet after finishing her new collection, I am astonished by how much I have absorbed—about Dostoevsky and the Unabomber, Job, Kafka, Anne Frank, Henry James, little-known foreign writers like W. G. Sebald, translation, historical fiction and the relationship between art and politics. Ozick is best when discussing other writers. Her essays on James' selfishness and need for privacy and Kafka's attitude toward German culture (and the subsequent translation of his work from German into English) are among the finest I have read on these authors. Her exploration of Anne Frank's story—how it "has been infantilized, Americanized, homogenized, sentimentalized," its truth continuously subverted—is masterful and bold; Ozick even wonders whether it might not have been better had Frank's diary been burned or lost. Sometimes her perceptions can delight, such as when she imagines archeologists in New York City, circa 3000, uncovering "a row of barbaric-looking poles" that they identify as "Identical sacrificial stands in homage to the city's divinity-king." What they have found, Ozick reports, are "Second Avenue parking meters: the Ozymandias of the late twentieth century." One wishes for more passages like this—clever and playful—yet Ozick bestows ample rewards for the patient and curious reader.