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culture selections.

[book] Yiddish with Dick and Jane
by Ellis Weiner, Barbara Davilman, Gabi Payn
Little, Brown; (September 13, 2004)
Schmooze Dick Schmooze
Jane works in Real Estate/ Jane has an Open House / Schlep Jane Schlep
Mary and Dick go out for Cantonese with their kids Alice and Zach
You will plotz! Television and film writer Barbara Davilman and humorist Ellis Weiner's YIDDISH WITH DICK AND JANE, a parody kids'book/language primer wherein grown-up versions of Dick and Jane help us all learn Yiddish. a primer like no other! In an inspired parodic twist, the two least Jewish characters in American literature spout some of the edgy, ironic Yiddishisms that have become part of the American vernacular Click the book cover above to read more.

Speaking of Summer 2004, it is the centennial of Isaac Bashevis Singer's birth in 1904. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1978; he passed away in 1991. [chaim grade the sacred and the profane]
If you want to celebrate his writings, check out some of the items below. If you despise his memory, check out the works of Inna Grade (GRA-duh), the widow of Chaim Grade, also below (she calls Singer a blasphemous buffoon).
For a list of events, visit www.Singer100.ORG
Becoming an American Writer: The Life and Work of IB Singer: traveling exhibit at Amherst til July 18; Boca Raton in September/October; and NYC in November/December
IB Singer Birthday Bash, July 14, KGB Bar in East Village NYC
Conference: The Imaginary World of IB Singer: National Yiddish Book Center, Hampshire College, Amherst, July 11-15
Performance of two Singer plays, "The Slave" and "Shosha", NYC Lincoln Center, July 20-23

[chaim grade the sacred and the profane] [my mothers sabbath days chaim grade] [collected stories of isaac bashevis singer] [a day of pleasure bashevis singer]

[in my fathers court bashevis singer] [enemies a love story bashevis singer] [zlateh the goat sendak isaac bashevis singer] [shadows on the hudson]

[book] Beautiful as the Moon, Radiant as the Stars
Jewish Women in Yiddish Stories
An Anthology
by Sandra Bark

November 2003. For fans of Jonathan Safran Foer, Nathan Englander, Cynthia Ozick, and Anita Diamant comes one of the first collections of stories about Yiddish women writers. Written by both male and female writers, the stories in this anthology focus on the female Ashkenazic experience during the 19th and 20th centuries. The women in these fascinating, often shocking, stories range from rebellious daughters and reluctant brides to cunning businesswomen and vengeful midwives. The issues they face, while particular to their place in history, will still resonate with modern readers. Assimilation and anti-Semitism are hot-button debate topics; themes of love, family, and loss are universal. This extensive collection contains the original stories that inspired Fiddler on the Roof and Yentl; an early Yiddish story by Dvora Baron, the first modern Hebrew writer; a story by Isaac Bashevis Singer and one by his sister, Esther Singer Kreitman. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] Classic Yiddish Stories of
S.Y. Abramovitsh, Sholem Aleichem, and
I.L. Peretz (Judaic Traditions in Literature, Music, and Art)
Edited by Professor Ken Frieden and Translated by Ted Gorelick and Michael Wex

Spring 2004. Syracuse University Press
Two early works by S.Y. Abramovitsh introduce the reader to Abramovitsh's alter ego Mendele the Book Peddler. Mendele narrates both The Little Man and Fishke the Lame. In different voices, he also presents a diverse cast of characters including Isaac Abraham as tailor's apprentice, choirboy, and corrupt businessman. Reb Alter tells of his matchmaking mishap and Fishke relates his travels through the Ukraine with a caravan of beggars. Sholem Aleichem's Tevye reemerges from new translations of "Hodel" and "Chava" in all of his comic splendor. Notes enable students to follow Tevye's uneven steps through Bible quotations. Four of Sholem Aleichem's other eloquent monologists come back to haunt us in scintillating translations. The selections from Peretz include his finest stories about the hasidim, such as "Kabbalists," "Teachings of the Hasidim," and the ironic tale "The Rebbe's Pipe." A fresh rendering of Peretz's masterpiece "Between Two Mountains" represents the meeting of an inspirational rebbe and an awe-inspiring rabbi. Following the translations are three biographical essays about these giants of modern Yiddish literature. Ken Frieden is the B. G. Rudolph Professor and Director of the Judaic Studies Program at Syracuse University. . Click the book cover above to read more.

by Rabbi Benjamin Blech

Paperback. Rob Lightner of wrote, "Whether you're getting back to your roots or getting ready for your first seder, it couldn't hurt to get a little help with your Yiddish, and the formidable Rabbi Benjamin Blech is here to lend a hand with the self-deprecatingly named Complete Idiot's Guide to Learning Yiddish. This language has been a strong influence on American English and pop culture, so even if you're a hundred miles from the nearest synagogue you can learn plenty just from browsing the Rabbi's words of wisdom. It's not just vocabulary lists and pronunciation guides, either--that would be far too boring for such a vibrant language. You'll learn why a culture that typically uses two languages (Hebrew and whatever's local) needed to develop a third, and why it stuck. There's also lots of Jewish history and contemporary Yiddish American crossovers to put the language in its context--and, given the importance of humor in Jewish culture, there's a liberal helping of jokes and funny moments to help you grasp words and concepts. Chapters on holidays, travel, food, family, health, entertainment, and more round out your Yiddish experience. If you want to gossip with your local yenta, understand Lenny Bruce routines, or get to know one of our nation's founding cultures a little bit better, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Learning Yiddish will make you a maven."


Six Heritage Tours of the Lower East Side: A Walking Guide.

by Leo Rosten,
updated by Lawrence Bush, art by R O Blechman, Edited by Doug Pepper.

Crown, September 2001. Leo Rosten's daughters (Madeleine Lee and Margaret Rosten Muir) have sold the rights to this 30 year old book to Crown Publishers (which sold 500,000 copies since 1968). The text is be updated for 2001, and it includes a cross reference Yiddish English index which was badly needed. Watch for future spinoffs and brand extensions.

[book] No Star Too Beautiful:
An Anthology of Yiddish Stories 1382 to the Present
by Joachim Neugroschel (Translator)

October 2002. A unique and rich anthology of Yiddish stories from the beginning of Yiddish literature through I. B. Singer. Yiddish became the everyday speech of Jews all over Europe and then globally with further Jewish emigration. It gave rise to a literature that reflected not only Jewish life but also the culture of the lands in which the Jews lived. A descriptive and flavorful tongue, it was used for forms as diverse as religious tales, fables, humor, social realism, surrealism, and the literary experiments of more modern times. No Star Too Beautiful is a bountiful anthology that brings together the masterpieces of this now vanishing tongue. Joachim Neugroschel has chosen stories emblematic of the people and their times, so that this volume chronicles not only a literary tradition but also the history of the people who created it. He has newly translated as well as compiled these stories, creating a seamless effect rarely approached in a work filled with so many voices. This astounding anthology is a lasting gift for generations.

[book] The World According to Itzik: Selected Prose and Poetry
by Itzik Manger, Leonard Wolf (Translator), David G. Roskies (Introduction)

In the years between 1929 and 1939, when Itzik Manger wrote most of the poetry and fiction that made him famous, his name among Yiddish readers was a household word. Called the Shelley of Yiddish, he was characterized as being "drunk with talent." This book-the first full-length anthology of Manger's work-displays the full range of his genius in poetry, fiction, and criticism. The book begins with an extensive historical, biographical, and literary-critical introduction to Manger's work. There are then excerpts from a novel, The Book of Paradise, three short stories, autobiographical essays, critical essays, and finally, Manger's magnificent poetry-ballads, bible poems, personal lyrics, and the Megilla Songs. These works, which have the patina of myths acquired ages ago, also offer modern psychological insight and irrepressible humor. With Manger we make the leap into the Jewish twentieth century, as he recreates the past in all its layered expressiveness and interprets it with modernist sensibilities.

[book] The Letters of Menakhem-Mendl,
Sheyne-Sheyndl and Motl the Cantor's Son
by Sholem Aleichem, Hillel Halkin (Translator)

This volume presents an outstanding new translation of two favorite comic novels by the preeminent Yiddish writer Sholem Aleichem (1859-1916). The Letters of Menakhem-Mendl and Sheyne-Sheyndl portrays a tumultuous marriage through letters exchanged between the title character, an itinerant bumbler seeking his fortune in the cities of Russia before departing alone for the New World, and his scolding wife, who becomes increasingly fearful, jealous, and mystified. Motl, Peysi the Cantor's Son is the first-person narrative of a mischievous and keenly observant boy who emigrates with his family from Russia to America. The final third of the story takes place in New York, making this Sholem Aleichem's only major work to be set in the United States. Motl and Menakhem-Mendl are in one sense opposites-the one a clear-eyed child and the other a pathetically deluded adult. Yet both are ideal conveyors of the comic disparity of perception on which humor depends. If Motl sees more than do others around him, Menakhem-Mendl has an almost infinite capacity for seeing less. Sholem Aleichem endows each character with an individual comic voice to tell in his own way the story of the collapse of traditional Jewish life in modern industrial society as well as the journey to America, where a new chapter of Jewish history begins. This volume includes a biographical and critical introduction as well as a useful glossary for English-language readers.

2000 Idiomatic Expressions in Yiddish
by Dr. Yosef Guri (Hebrew University)
Hebrew University Magnes Press
Dr. Guri, who states that Yiddish was developed in the Rhine Valley , with 70% of its words derived from Germanic languages, 10% from Hebrew or Aramaic, and 20% Slavic, has studied 2000 expressions and defined them and compared them to other idioms in other languages.

[click me to see the bookcover or buy it] TOO YOUNG FOR YIDDISH
by Richard Michelson with illustrations by Neil Waldman

The book reads right to left, like Yiddish. Growing up in Brooklyn in the 1950's, Aaron (as in the same name of the founder of the Yiddish Book Center) is intrigued but embarrassed by his grandfather's (Zayde's) foreign accent, his stories, and his Yiddish Books. Zayde tells Aaron to focus on English, in America people speak English. Aaron grows up, and during a visit to Zayde, he finds the Yiddish books thrown into The Dumpster. Aaron retrieves the books and starts studying Yiddish with his grandfather.


October 10, 2001, Steerforth Press. With its rich history, comic-stoic worldview, and unforgettable phrases, Yiddish has become part of the world's culture. In Yiddish: A Nation of Words, Miriam Weinstein takes the reader on a witty romp through a language and a lifestyle that has mostly vanished. Weinstein consulted everyone from language mavens to her own relatives to trace the crucial part Yiddish has played in keeping alive a culture often under siege. Through its daily use across the globe, it linked European Jews with their heroic past, their spiritual universe, and their increasingly far-flung relations. Impoverished and marginalized by much of the world, Yiddish speakers created their own alternate reality. Weinstein doggedly tracks that reality, from the early days when Yiddish was spoken only by women and the untutored, to the present, when chutzpah is part of everyone's vocabulary and Americans of all ethnic backgrounds shrug dramatically and say, What am I, chopped liver?

[book] Prophets and Dreamers:
A Selection of Great Yiddish Literature
by Miriam Weinstein (Editor)
October 1, 2002. Prophets and Dreamers capitalizes on the renaissance of interest in Yiddish language, lore, and culture. Here are short stories, folk songs, and poems from the late 19th century - when Yiddish literature blossomed in response to immense social change - to contemporary times. Representing the full spectrum of Yiddish culture, writers range from shtetl dwellers and sweatshop poets to modernists and political activists. The book's introduction, together with thumbnail biographies of the contributors and the English-language debut of Isaac Bashevis Singer's "Old Age," is particularly geared toward readers discovering this treasure trove for the first time. Based on an idea by Chip Fleischer. Includes about 18 stories by Mendele Moykher-Sforim (the book peddler, Sholem Abramovitsch), Y L Peretz, Sholom Aleichem, Shimon An-ski, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Morris Rosenfeld, Yankev Glatshteyn, Abraham Sutzkever. Includes poems, as well as 8 folksongs. For each author, the editor of this book includes a photo of the Yiddish writer and a biography. Stories include A Yom Kippur Scandal; Fishke the Lame; Three Gifts; Autumn Leaves; My Tent; War; and Like a Mouse Trap. Click to read more.

[book cover] Drek : The Real Yiddish Your Bubbe Never Taught You
by Yetta Emmes

One doesn't have to be Jewish to recognize the words that have made their way into every fold of popular language: Chutzpah, Mensch, Tokhes, Mishmash, Nudge, Shtick, Schmaltzy, Schlep, Icky, and so on. Then there are phrases whose meaning and syntax are borrowed from Yiddish: "bite your tongue", "drop dead", "enough already", and "excuse the expression". This hilarious, concise guide includes chapters on the Basic Descriptions of People (the good, the bad, the ugly, and the goofy), the Fine Art of Cursing, Juicy Words and Phrases, Exclamations and Exasperations, and the Fine Art of Blessing

[book cover] You Can't Do Business (Or Most Anything Else) Without Yiddish
by Leon H. Gildin, Paul Peter Porges (Illustrator)


[cover] POYLN: Jewish Life in the Old Country by Alter Kacyzne
Hardcover - 192 pages (November 1999). A remarkable book of photos equal to those of Roman Vishniac. The poet, dramatist, and journalist Alter Kacyzne's (ka-TZIZ-neh), took photos for The Forverts (Yiddish Daily Forward). These photos have not been seen in 60 years. At once tender and humorous, Poyln tells the story of a way of life and recalls the warmth and spirit of a community on the edge of destruction. He was killed in the Ukraine in 1941. A poet, dramatist, journalist, and photographer, he was a central figure in Warsaw's Yiddish cultural world.
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[cover] Yiddishland by Gerard Silvain, Henri Minczeles
This is a great idea for a book and a great gift. For some months, I have trolled through ebay and Amazon auctions, clicking on but never buying copies of old standard and Jewish postcards. The co-author of this book has one of the largest archives of Jewish postcards and images, and he has compiled them into this amazing collection of old Shtetl and Jewish life postcards. They provide the reader with an glimpse of what the Yiddish world was like and what images people wanted to retain. In the words of Gerard Silvain, "Collecting of postcards has become the second largest type of collection in the world...More moving than any other type of collection for the Jew in search of his roots, the postcard collection is still little known by the general public." PS - Note to BN.Com sells this book for 30% less than I or Amazon can, so go to to purchase this book.
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[bookcover] Klezmer! Jewish Music From Old World to Our World by Henry Sapoznik
Hardcover - 350 pages. Henry Sapoznik, a modern klezmer pioneer and parent of KlezKamp, a banjo player and son of a cantor, a civil war scholar, and Grammy nominated performer of Klezmer, has compiled this essential history of klez. He traces its route from the small towns of Germany, Poland, and Russia to the Golden Age of New York's Second Avenue to the genre's now-burgeoning global popularity. Through an examination of theater, recordings, film, radio, and the depiction of Jews in vaudeville and Hollywood, readers are introduced to the colorful characters who shaped klezmer in its early years and to the surprisingly diverse group of men and women carrying it on into the next century. In his quest to trace the roots of klezmer, Sapoznik unearthed antique 78s, sheet music, and newspaper clippings; found rare discs of long-forgotten radio programs; and, most important of all, rediscovered and championed the last generation of old-time klezmer musicians, bringing their musical styles to a new audience. Sapoznik is currently at work on a NPR documentary series with MacArthur grant winner David Isay, on the history of Yiddish radio broadcasting in America. Click to read more reviews of this book.
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[bookcover] The Compleat Klezmer by Henry Sapoznik, Pete Sokolow
Paperback - 80 pages Spiral edition. The klezmer fake book? The standard core repertoire with which any klezmer band should be familiar. Click to read more reviews of this book.
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[bookcover] The Essential Klezmer: A Music Lover's Guide to Jewish Roots and Soul Music, from the Old World to the Jazz Age to the Downtown Avant Garde by Seth Rogovoy
Hardcover - 320 pages (May 12, 2000) Algonquin Books. Take your sides, people? Sapoznik versus Rogovoy? Old school vs. new school? No rason to choose, these book go together like gin and tonic, almonds and raisins. This is the story of new style klez. Contains an excellent eighty page discography of every klez record/cd available. Click to read more reviews of this book.
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[cover] A Vanished World by Roman Vishniac
Roman Vishniac's A Vanished World is an extraordinary record of the lives of German and Eastern European Jews in the years immediately preceding the Holocaust. Click to read more.
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Hardcover - 352 pages (April 2000). Hindele lives in the shtetl of Bociany. She is the widow of the town scribe. She and her son Yacov set off for Lodz as the ideas of Zionism and Socialism are gaining in stature. Click to read more.
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[cover] VINI DER PU. A Yiddish Version of Winnie the Pooh. By A. A. Milne. Translated by Leonard Wolf.
Ages 4-8 (if they read Yiddish in transliteration). June 2000. In TRANSLITERATION. Now you can add Yiddish to the list of 31 languages in which Pooh appears. Read about Vini-der-Pooh, Iya (eeyore), Khazerl (Piglet), and Kristofer Robin, as they munch on Varshaver Tort / Warsaw Cake (Cottleston Pie), and play near Khazerls Hoyz, Kangus Hoyz, Binenboym, Farfleytst Plats, Pu Bers Hoyz, and Hundert akordiker Wald. The book starts with a transliteration pronunciation page. Ten chapters follow. Each chapter begins with just a paragraph in Yiddish/Hebrew characters. This is followed by the story in Yiddish transliteration in English characters and Ernest Shepard's original illustrations. I was disappointed that there is no English translation, but one can easily just buy the English version also. The easy stuff is "Kristofer Robin hot gornisht gezogt, nor di oygn zenen im alts greser gevorn un des ponem alts Rozever" or when Vini der Pu says "Gut Morgn, and Kristofer Robin replies "Gut-yor, Vini dur Pu" But when Vini der Pu is a narisher alter Ber, and visits Kinigls (rabbit) and is a frayer and ferklempt and everyone must try to pull him out of the hole, the Yiddish is a tad harder. For example, "hot er ongekhapt Puen far di federshte lapes un kinigl hot ongekhapt Kristofer, un Kinigls, un Kinigls ale khaveyrim, un kroyvim hobn ongekhapt Kiniglem, un ale tsuzamen hobn zey getsoygn..." Translated by Leonard Wolf of NYU (Adjunct) and SFSU (Emeritus). Click to read more.
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[cover] The Joys of Yiddish by Leo Rosten
The classic book on the Yiddish language. Mass Market Paperback Reissue edition. Click to read more.
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[cover] Drek : The Real Yiddish Your Bubbe Never Taught You by Yetta Emmes
The title says it all. Click to read more.
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[cover] More Words, More Arrows : A Further Collection of Yiddish Folk Sayings by Shirley Kumove (Editor)
Hardcover - 224 pages (April 1999) Wayne State Univ Press. Canadian, Shirley Kumove, has undertaken the task of collecting, cataloguing, and interpreting the vast storehouse of Yiddish folk sayings, which continues to grow as new oral and written sources become available. For this book, some 2,400 entries were culled from her collection of more than 7,000 sayings and are arranged in a hundred categories-focusing on such character traits as authority, courage, and greed-in order to allow them to stand without unnecessary explication. Introductory material provides social and historical context as well as commentary on aspects of translation. These sayings, ditties, rhymes, and word plays cover the full range of Yiddish folk sayings, from comic to serious. Kumove has even retained vulgarities as legitimate expressions that reflect the sensibilities of a particular time and place. The sayings are presented in bilingual format, with the original Yiddish transliterated into Roman letters and then translated into English. In some cases, both literal and interpretative translations are given. Where appropriate, corresponding English sayings are offered as well. More Words, More Arrows preserves and transmits a rich heritage for scholars and general readers alike. Motivated by the spirit of sharit hapleyta, it "rescues the remnant" of centuries-old Yiddish culture that was destroyed by the Holocaust, and it stands as a testament to the dynamism and variety of Jewish life in both the Old World and the New. Click to read more.
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[cover] A Day of Pleasure : Stories of a Boy Growing Up in Warsaw by Isaac Bashevis Singer, Roman Vishniac (Photographer)
Reading level: Young Adult Paperback Reprint edition (May 1986). Click to read more.
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SPEAKING OF I.B. SINGER BOOKS....... [cover] The Collected Stories of Isaac Bashevis Singer by Isaac Bashevis Singer
Paperback (September 1983). Click to read more.
Click here to or get more information on THE COLLECTED STORIES

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[cover] Classic Yiddish Fiction : Abramovitsh, Sholem Aleichem, and Peretz (Suny Series in Modern Jewish Literature and Culture) by Ken Frieden
Paperback - 364 pages (October 1995) State University of NY Press. Click to read more.
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[cover] Found Treasures : Stories by Yiddish Women Writers by Frieda Forman (Editor), Ethel Raicus, Sarah Swartz (Editor), Margie Wolfe, Irena Klepfisz (Designer)
Paperback - 391 pages (December 1994). Click to read more.
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[cover] God, Man, and Devil : Yiddish Plays in Translation (Judaic Traditions in Literature, Music, and Art) by Nahma Sandrow (Translator)
Paperback - 320 pages (December 1998). The favorite Yiddish Plays of the translator of two of the hottest shows: Kuni Leml and Vagabond Stars. Click to read more.
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[cover] A Bridge of Longing : The Lost Art of Yiddish Storytelling by David G. Roskies
Harvard University Press. Click to read more.
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[book] Yiddish Song Book by Jerry Silverman
Paperback - 224 pages. offers 115 pieces of Klezmer music with more than 20 photos. Full sheet music plus Yiddish and English. Click to read more reviews of this book.
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[cover] Tales of Mendele the Book Peddler: Fishke the Lame and Benjamin the Third (Yiddish Classics Series) by Mendele Mokher Sefarim, Dan Miron (Editor), Ken Frieden, S. Y. Abramovitsh
Paperback Reprint edition (October 1996) Schocken Books. S. Y. Abramovitsch (1835-1917) was the architect of modern fiction in Yiddish and Hebrew. He wrote primarily in Russia during the later nineteenth century, drawing great inspiration from his shtetl origins and often lampooning them, too. By the way.... His granddaughter just wrote a biography of him, but it is only available in Hebrew in Israel currently. Click to read more.
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[cover] Life on the Stage : A Memoir by Jacob P. Adler, Lulla Rosenfeld (Editor)
Hardcover - 416 pages (October 1999) Knopf. A fabulous dive into the swimming pool of Yiddish theater. Jacob Adler (1855-1926) memoir of one of the greatest Yiddish actors, directors and producers. Translated into English for the first time by his granddaughter. Famous from Odessa to London to NYC's Lower East Side. He survived 3 pogroms. His 3 wives were all actresses. The daughter from his third wife (Sara Adler) is none other than the famed Stella Adler (who writes the introduction) Click to read more.
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[cover] Dybbuk [UNABRIDGED] by S. Ansky
The audio Cassette version. Click to read more.
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God Man and the Devil While Standing on One Foot Vagabond Star Hey.. Work in Progress, friends.....

******Immigrant Literature*****

The Education of Hyman Kaplan by Leo Rosten (1937) Yiddishism, like Abraham Licoln as Avram Lincohen, the plural of cat is Katz.

New Strangers in Paradise (Kentucky 1999) Gilbert H Muller.

Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina Lourdes.

Typical American by Gish Jen

The Rise of David Levinsky

Empress of the Splendid Season by Oscar Hijuelos

A Tree Goes in Brooklyn, Betty Smith

Native Speaker by Chang-Rae Lee

Becoming American by Meri Nana-Ama Danquah. 23 immigrant women write of their disdain and appreciation of life in America.

Eating Chinese Food Naked Mei Ng. The strangement between immigrant parents and their children.

Catfish and Mandalay

The Fruit N Food

New Strangers in Paradise

The NuyorAsian Anthology

A Gesture Life

Why She Left Us

The Gangster of Love

Bronx Primitive

How the Garcia Girls

Interpreter of Maladies


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