Roy Schwartz’s 2020 book, Is Superman Circumcised? The Complete History of the World’s Greatest Hero, has won The Guardian’s Diagram Prize for “Oddest Book Title of the Year.” Competing against five other finalists, Schwartz’s book won in a landslide, receiving 51% of the 11,000 votes cast. The inaugural Diagram Prize was awarded in 1978.
In a comment to The Guardian, Schwartz says: “I’m sincerely honoured to receive this august literary prize. It’s a great reminder that even serious literature is allowed to be fun.”
Is Superman Circumcised? is a journey through comic book lore, American history, and Jewish tradition, examining the entirety of Superman’s career from 1938 to date, and is sure to give readers a newfound appreciation for the Mensch of Steel! Superman is the original superhero, an American icon, and arguably the most famous character in the world—and he’s Jewish! Introduced in June 1938, the Man of Steel was created by two Jewish teens, Jerry Siegel, the son of immigrants from Eastern Europe, and Joe Shuster, an immigrant. They based their hero’s origin story on Moses, his strength on Samson, his mission on the golem, and his nebbish secret identity on themselves. They made him a refugee fleeing catastrophe on the eve of World War II and sent him to tear Nazi tanks apart nearly two years before the US joined the war. In the following decades, Superman’s mostly Jewish writers, artists, and editors continued to borrow Jewish motifs for their stories, basing Krypton’s past on Genesis and Exodus, its society on Jewish culture, the trial of Lex Luthor on Adolf Eichmann’s, and a future holiday celebrating Superman on Passover.
Roy Schwartz has written for newspapers, magazines, websites, academic organizations, law firms, tech companies, toy companies, and production studios. He has taught English and writing at the City University of New York and is a former writer-in-residence at the New York Public Library. He is the director of marketing and business development of a regional law firm.