On Mon­day, Alle­gra Good­man wrote about writ­ing Jew­ish” fic­tion. She will be blog­ging all week for the Jew­ish Book Coun­cil and MyJew­ish­Learn­ing.

Albert Ein­stein famous­ly declared him­self a cit­i­zen of the world. As an artist I’d like to do the same. That doesn’t mean mask­ing the par­tic­u­lars of my expe­ri­ence or my her­itage — it means com­mu­ni­cat­ing them more broad­ly. The artists I admire most are world artists. They thrive on this sort of com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Let me give you some examples.

Com­pos­er Osval­do Goli­jov is a Jew who grew up in Argenti­na, stud­ied in Israel and set­tled in the Unit­ed States. His work lay­ers South Amer­i­can rhythms, klezmer riffs, sacred chant, clas­si­cal and pop­u­lar gen­res. You can hear a can­to­r­i­al wail in the clar­inet part of The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind” and you can hear kad­dish in his Pasion segun san Mar­cos” along with a rock­ing Venezue­lan choir, drum­ming, rig­or­ous fugue and car­ni­val. Goli­jov weaves all these threads togeth­er to cre­ate a new music greater than the sum of its parts.

Nov­el­ist Kazuo Ishig­uro was born in Japan but works in Eng­land. His diverse work includes Remains of the Day, a nov­el about an Eng­lish but­ler on the eve of World War II, and Nev­er Let Me Go, a dystopi­an nov­el about a group of chil­dren schooled to sac­ri­fice them­selves for soci­ety. His fic­tion is both Eng­lish and Japan­ese, treat­ing themes of con­for­mi­ty, self-sac­ri­fice, the ide­al of hon­or, and the price of reticence.

My col­league at Boston Uni­ver­si­ty, Ha Jin, is a Chi­nese poet and nov­el­ist writ­ing in Eng­lish. He has not vis­it­ed Chi­na in many years, and he has not lived in Amer­i­ca for very long, but he uses this to his advan­tage, writ­ing about both Chi­na and Amer­i­ca from an outsider’s per­spec­tive. Ha Jin turns the expe­ri­ence of the stranger in a strange land into a cen­tral motif in A Free Life. His work is a pro­found med­i­ta­tion on defa­mil­iar­iza­tion — mov­ing from one lan­guage to anoth­er, from one cul­ture to anoth­er. From coun­try to city in Wait­ing, from immi­gra­tion to nat­u­ral­iza­tion in A Free Life. Worlds con­quer worlds. Indi­vid­u­als dis­cov­er the pos­si­bil­i­ties and the costs of reinvention.

All of these artists use cul­tur­al dif­fer­ence as a medi­um. They lay­er spe­cif­ic themes and idioms with tremen­dous sub­tle­ty and con­fi­dence. It’s not a new way to work, but it seems to me an excit­ing way. Begin with what you are. Use what you know, and your art will speak to more peo­ple. As James Joyce wrote in Switzer­land many years ago: For myself, I always write about Dublin, because if I can get to the heart of Dublin I can get to the heart of all the cities of the world. In the par­tic­u­lar is con­tained the universal.”

Alle­gra Goodman’s new nov­el, The Cook­book Col­lec­tor, is avail­able for pre-order. Find her on Face­book and her web­site.