I recently found this book review which argues that “there is no Jewish Narnia”.
The author seems to mean two things:
- There is no major Jewish writer in the ‘epic fantasy’ tradition of Tolkien.
- There is no fantasy world which is Jewish in the same way that Narnia is Christian.
There are major Jewish writers of fantasy in the broader sense (for example Neil Gaiman), several important people in comics (Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster), and of course lots of science fiction writers (Isaac Asimov).
The essay is interesting, but I think it might be needlessly complex, and possibly inaccurate, to argue that Judaism is inherently oriented towards the real world and modernity while Christianity is inherently oriented towards imaginary worlds and the past. How does Kabbalah fit into that theory?
It seems to me that the most likely reason for point 1 above is that (as the author points out), Jewish people are going to have problems overlooking the problems with medieval chivalry. You’re probably going to have problems writing ‘orcs’- near-humans that are there to be killed by the heroes- when your ancestors were forced into that historical role.
I can’t, however, think of a similarly simple explanation for point 2.