The Brothers Ashkenazi (Twentieth-Century Classics)

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9780140187779: The Brothers Ashkenazi (Twentieth-Century Classics)

With a large cast of characters, this is a social novel, a family saga set against the rise of capitalism and of a Jewish bourgeoisie in Lodz. It tells the story, through an interwoven plot, of the clash between old traditions and growing desires.

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About the Author:

ISRAEL JOSHUA SINGER (1893-1944), the brother of Nobel Prize-winner Isaac Bashevis Singer, was born in Bilgoraj, Poland, the son of a rabbi. He contributed to Yiddish newspapers in Warsaw and Kiev, where his short story, ''Pearls,'' was published, which brought him immediate recognition. In 1921 he was hired as a correspondent for the Jewish Daily Forward. In 1927 he wrote his first novel, Steel and Iron, which was followed five years later by Yoshe Kalb. He came to the United States in 1934, and within two years The Brothers Ashkenzai was published, a work that was not only an instant success but was also destined to become a classic in its time.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

The children loved the yard, no one more so than Jacob Bunem.
   “Sima Meir,” he would cry in a loud voice that expressed his lust for life, “come play tag.”
   “I don’t want to,” Simha Meir would say brusquely and turn away.
   The twins didn’t get along.
   Jacob Bunem would have preferred it otherwise. He was bigger, stronger, full of laughter.
   “Jacob Bunem, why do you always laugh?” others asked.
   “Cause I feel like it,” he would say, and laugh again so that the others felt compelled to join in.
   He put his whole heart and soul into the childish games. No one could run faster, or find better hiding places in the foundation when they played hide and seek, or catch the ends of the cord the roper dragged through the courtyard. He could excavate the biggest rocks and raise them overhead. He never grew tired of the games. Not only did he enjoy playing, but he wanted everyone, especially his brother, to do the same. But Simha Meir would have none of it.

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