The Yiddish Book Center’s “Stories of Exile” is a reading and discussion program designed to engage teens and adults in thinking about experiences of displacement, migration, and diaspora.
Using Yiddish literature as a portal, the “Stories of Exile” Book Group at Rochambeau Library will feature works in translation that explore narratives which grapple with questions of homelands, journeys, identity, and belonging. The Book group will compare these works written in Yiddish in the early and mid-20th century to a work by a contemporary writer from a more recent immigrant group.
The first title is The Glatstein Chronicles, by Jacob Glatstein (1896-1971), who travels from his home in America to his native Poland to visit his dying mother. He used his journey as the basis for two highly autobiographical novellas (translated as The Glatstein Chronicles) in which he intertwines childhood memories with observations of growing antisemitism in Europe.
In Book One, “Homeward Bound”, the narrator, Yash, recounts his voyage to his birthplace in Poland and the array of international travelers he meets along the way. Book Two, “Homecoming at Twilight”, resumes after his mother’s funeral and ends with Yash’s impending return to the United States, a Jew with an American passport who recognizes the ominous history he is traversing.
Pick up a copy of the book at the Reference Desk at Rochambeau Library. The books will be reused for another discussion series so please return them unmarked!
In the fall we will continue with On the Landing: Stories by Yenta Mash, and In the Land of the Postscript: Short Stories by Chava Rosenfarb.
The fourth book is The Namesake, by Jumpa Lahiri, who grew up in Rhode Island in an immigrant family from India.
Fall dates to be announced.
This program is made possible by the Yiddish Book Center.