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Oedipus in Brooklyn and Other Stories Hardcover – November 22, 2016
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Your forthcoming publication of a Blume Lempel short story collection is a splendid surprise and a significant revivification of a brilliantly robust Yiddish-American writer: why should Isaac Bashevis Singer and Chaim Grade monopolize this rich literary lode?Cynthia Ozick, author of The Puttermesser Papers, The Shawl, The Messiah of Stockholm, and many other fine works of fiction and nonfiction.
Oedipus in Brooklyn, and Other Stories gives English readers an unprecedented opportunity to delve into a substantial body of prose by Blume Lempel, an unusual and important voice in postWorld War II Yiddish letters. Jeffrey Shandler,Rutgers University, author of Adventures in Yiddishland: Postvernacular Language and Culture
Blume Lempel died at the end of the last century, leaving a remarkable legacy that this beautifully translated volume finally makes accessible to a wider audience .She writes about the erotic and intellectual life of (mostly) women and men, their psychological and historical motivations, the horror of the Holocaust and the desire to renew life even as one mourns. For these characters, as for Lempel herself, writing, thinking, lamenting, and loving in Yiddish is a vital expression of the will to live.” Anita Norich, Frankel Center for Judaic Studies, University of Michigan, author of Writing in Tongues: Translating Yiddish in the 20th Century
From Poland to Tel Aviv to Brooklyn, in lyrical prose, Lempel’s stories give voice to memory, longing, and loss in the rich tradition of Jewish storytelling.” Victoria Aarons, Trinity University, editor of The New Diaspora: The Changing Landscape of American Jewish Fiction
In all twenty-three of her collected stories Blume Lempel conducts a conversation across multiple time zones and spheres. She talks to Moses and Galileo; to the insects, birds, and primates; to the forests and fields; to the sun, stars, moonand moon landing. Even as her memorable cast of characters relive their childhood and first love; even as they make breakfast, go out on a date, marvel at Yosemite Park or get caught in a blizzard, their minds are short-circuited by the horrors of what happened to the Jews of Europe.” David G. Roskies, Jewish Theological Seminary, author of Against the Apocalypse: Responses to Catastrophe in Modern Jewish Culture.
About the Author
Ellen Cassedy: A former columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News, a former speechwriter in the Clinton Administration, Ellen is the author of We are Here: Memories of the Lithuanian Holocaust." Her work has appeared in Hadassah, The Jewish Daily Forward, the Huffington Post, Lilith,and many other fine journals.
Yermiyahu Ahron Taub: Born and raised in Philadelphia and Baltimore, Taub graduated Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude from Temple University. He received an M.A. in history from Emory University and an M.L.S. from Queens College, CUNY.The author of four books of poetry,he was honored as one of NYC’s best Jewish artists.
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The richness of the English version made me regret of not being able to read the stories in the original Yiddish. There is an infinite variety of feelings and descriptions in every sample of writing, and for a while I ended up trying to imagine which was the Yiddish version for a paragraph or another.
Blume Lempel writes about the Old Country, stories of survival with any price, even for a short time, stories of failure, nostalgia. There are stories that should be written because this is what is left after what happened. Very often, nature, with its beauty and implacable laws and wild life is the complete antithesis to the erratic human life. In the words of one of her characters: 'But what man has done to the man, this I cannot forgive'. The people she is writing about live lives ordered by caprice, struggling to escape the turmoils of the human nature. If for Adorno, 'to write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric', for Blume Lempel to write without mentioning the trauma of the Shoah is impossible. Herself torn by the pain of being the only survivor of her family, she is just writing even not sure about her art of writing and the chances of publishing. This quote from the last story of this volume - The Fate of the Yiddish Writer - is her testimony: 'You did not survive simply to eat blintzes with some cream. You survived to bring back those who were annihilated. You must speak in their tongue, point with their fingers'. In the same story there is the reason why she choose Yiddish instead of English: 'My father and my mother, and sisters and brothers, my murdered people seek revenge in Yiddish. No world language is comparable to Yiddish, with its unique sights, its unmatched sense of humor'.
There are not enough stars to give to this book that simply breaks your heart every story at a time, but with a good reason. We should remember and never forget.