Web Feature

AHUVA ROGERS
in conversation with BENNINGTON REVIEW 

 

BLAIR BLUMBERG

How did you come to include magical realist and folkloric elements in "The Prophet"?

AHUVA ROGERS 

I naturally gravitate toward magical realism and much admire the Jewish contribution to this mode of literature. When I think about Jewish folklore and culture—a culture steeped in mythology and storytelling—it’s hard not to appreciate that magical realism is a near perfect vehicle for a story involving Jews. I also like the juxtaposition of this literary form, which feels so ancient to me, against a modern tale. Magical realism is actually very functional in that one can often get to deeper truths in a disarming, roundabout way. That said, it was never my intention to write a magical realist story. The first line came to me, and then the rest of the story fell into place, as though waiting to be told exactly like this. 

BLAIR BLUMBERG

What kind of research into the profession of being a butcher did you do in preparation for the character of Moshe? Was the world of the Kosher butcher shop researched or imagined?

AHUVA ROGERS

The butcher shop is an amalgam of the kosher butcher shops from my youth. It is imagined, but very much based on real ones. I can actually still smell one of them, distinctly, from memory. It was a dingy hole-in-the-wall, probably rarely cleaned, but to me it was a fascinating place. When we shopped there, my mother always bought candy for me and my sister. They had a pretty ample selection near the cash register. I also remember the butcher’s stained white smock. Once I envisioned Moshe’s fictional store, it was easy for me to see him at work. So, no, I didn’t do research. It was more an act of recollection.

BLAIR BLUMBERG

The protagonist of "The Prophet" is a devout member of an Orthodox Jewish community. How did the character Moshe come into being?

AHUVA ROGERS

Moshe is a man who could be any man in the community I come from. Because I started off with a talking chicken, it just followed naturally that I was dealing with a butcher, but he is anyone from my town, really. I grew up in a relatively poor Jewish community where many people were not college-educated and worked in the service industries. I don’t know how happy they were in their lives, but, regardless, they observed the Torah with extreme devotion. There was always something beautiful to me about simple faith. I just never had any of it myself. Probably because I could also see why faith of that nature could be very problematic.

BLAIR BLUMBERG 

This story is your first publication. Congratulations! Have you been writing fiction for a long time? Are you working on a collection of stories, and if so, could you tell us a little about it?

AHUVA ROGERS

Thank you! I’ve been writing fiction for nearly six years. It’s taken me a long time to find my voice and figure out how a story works. It’s so much more technical a process than I ever could have imagined. I’m working on a bunch of stories right now that I hope will soon turn into my first collection. Some are in the vein of “The Prophet,” but darker. I like dropping characters—all Jews—into hot water and watch them try to save themselves. I like watching people in real life try to save themselves, too.

BLAIR BLUMBERG

What are you reading currently? 

AHUVA ROGERS

The Frozen Rabbi by Steve Stern. It’s a total delight.


AHUVA ROGERS is currently pursuing an MFA in fiction at Pacific University. She lives in metropolitan Detroit. “The Prophet” is her first published story.


BLAIR BLUMBERG is an editorial assistant at Bennington Review.



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