The Spice Box, Old and New
Defining the Field of Canadian Jewish Writing
This essay probes the editorial imperatives underlying two complementary anthologies: The Spice Box: An Anthology of Jewish Canadian Writing (1981) and The New Spice Box: Canadian Jewish Writing (2017). It contends that widespread notions of Canadianess on the one hand and Jewishness on the other influenced editorial selection of the specific representations of Canadian Jewish writing in the two iterations of The Spice Box. Much of the work included in 1981 was explicitly concerned with the ways national and cultural identities converge. In an ironic reversal, writers in the 2017 collection are inclined to probe their cultural inheritance by returning to a past that is rarely rooted in Canada. By investigating the editorial focus and literary content of The Spice Box old and new, this essay shows that each collection invokes prevailing ideas about nation and culture to further its larger project of defining the field of Canadian Jewish writing.