This is an English-language abridgement of the original two-volume anthology of Yiddish literature published by the Congress for Jewish Culture in 1999 and 2002.
It includes poetry, short stories, and essays from a variety of the best Yiddish writers of the last century, from Edelshtat and Tsunzer to Korn and Singer. Each author is introduced with a few sentences, followed by selections from their work. While the book seems designed to introduce non-Yiddish speaking readers to many of the themes of Yiddish literature — persecution, pogroms, immigration, assimilation, spirituality— the unevenness of the translations does a disservice to some writers, particularly the poets.
Bettina Berch, author of the recent biography, From Hester Street to Hollywood: The Life and Work of Anzia Yezierska, teaches part-time at the Borough of Manhattan Community College.