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America

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Sholem Asch, America [New York; 1911]

A sentimental (at least in a translation replete with thous) Yiddish novel about a Jewish family's emigration to the big alien metropolis of New York. Asch wrote it in Poland in 1911, having traveled to America the two previous years; he would spend the next twenty years moving between Europe and North America, until World War II made it expedient to remain on the western side of the Atlantic. As an early example of his conventional, pious, and often sharply-observed fiction (he would be famous by the end of the decade, and was a best-seller in multiple languages into the 1950s), it's distinguished primarily by its lightness and brevity: midcentury fiction would expend a thousand pages on more or less the same plot.

August 7, 2017