Books by Jane Kramer

Released: Nov. 21, 2017

"A joyous feast of food, travel, and human relationships."
The longtime New Yorker European correspondent gathers a selection of her finest food-and-travel essays. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 1996

In her latest collection of her ``Letters from Europe'' for the New Yorker, Kramer (Whose Art Is It?, 1994, etc.) ponders the fate of post-Wall Germany. In six long essays from November 1988 to August 1995, Kramer offers snapshots of a nation struggling through a difficult transition, evolving from the divided Germany of the Cold War to the uneasily reunified Germany of today. The Germans, she writes in her introduction, ``discovered that it was hard to be ordinary folks . . . when you had a Holocaust in your history.'' But the presence of the Holocaust is only implied in all but the last two pieces, one on skinhead violence in the city of Ludwigshafen and the other on Berlin's debate over how to memorialize the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis. In the first four essays, the dilemma hangs like an unidentified cloud over Germans who strive to be ``ordinary.'' However, the most visible presence in all six pieces is the Wall and its ghosts. In her November 1991 piece ``Berlin,'' Kramer treats the German capital as a city in which East and West are still clearly demarcated. In ``Peter Schmidt'' and ``Stasi'' she reveals the problems that the former East Germans have brought to the unification party, particularly an odd, troubling passivity. Kramer is not a scintillating prose stylist, but she is an excellent reporter. Equally important, she has a sure grasp of the architecture of the long feature piece; the six essays in this volume are superbly structured. It would have been nice, however, to know what happened to the principal players here in the years since the articles were written. Thoughtful, insightful writing, a convincing portrait of contemporary Germany, and a forceful cautionary tale: After all, every time the Germans have had a ``German problem,'' it has become as a problem for everyone else, too. Read full book review >
WHOSE ART IS IT? by Jane Kramer
Released: Nov. 1, 1994

Selections from Kramer's superb ``Letter from Europe'' series in the New Yorker—challenging, informative models of intellectual journalism for the general reader—have been collected in several books (Europeans, 1988, etc.). This single-article reprint launches Public Planet Books, a series edited by Kramer, Dilip Gaonkar (Rhetoric/Univ. of Illinois), and Michael Warner (English/Rutgers) that aims to ``combine reportage and critical reflection on unfolding issues and events.'' This short volume is Kramer's account of the furor provoked by white artist John Ahearn's sculptures of residents of the South Bronx—one of New York City's urban ruins. Kramer's article (originally published in the New Yorker), which prompted charges of racism and stereotyping, touches on the hyper-charged subjects of multiculturalism and political correctness. The author addresses these questions with her customary sensitivity to nuance and the human dimensions of social issues. Rutgers University dean Catharine R. Stimpson (Where the Meanings Are: Feminism and Cultural Spaces, not reviewed) provides an introduction that, while not as elegantly written as Kramer's text, usefully puts the debate into historical context. Read full book review >