In 2014, an internet gossip-site published a story asserting that the boy-wonder novelist Jonathan Safran Foer, who had scarcely emerged from the womb before the literary world started showering him with prizes, had split with his wife, Nicole Krauss, another successful novelist, because of Foer’s unrequited love for the actress Natalie Portman, a fan and pen pal to him. Two years later, The New York Times promoted a movie Portman had directed by publishing a lengthy series of emails between actress and novelist that many thought amounted to a kind of smoking gun in Foer’s hand: to some, he came across as flirtatious and desperate to impress the Oscar-winning starlet.

This incident apparently inspired the playwright Anna Ziegler to write the 2018 play The Wanderers, which after...


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