Certainly a classic of Hebrew literature, in its first American appearance, by a Polish/Galician who immigrated to Palestine in 1915 and died in Israel in 1952. This village novel resembles some of the work of I. J., rather than I. B. Singer, in its family/neighborhood approach -- and far surpasses Agnon in style and sophistication. Asher's narrative movement, insidiously loose, gives a new cast and tilt to what is universally familiar. Superficially this is the story of the good Hanna -- from young bride to old woman -- whose brewery was a kind of social polestar for the village, peopled by both Jews and gentiles of low and high degree -- drawn by Asher with care and delicacy. Hard-working, charitable, with the dignity of a ""real lady,"" Hanna is no visionary. But when first married she had had a nightmare about a burning bed enveloping her pious, withdrawn husband the night before he died. And her daughter, fragile Bracha, and grandson Shlomke, seem to have inherited an awareness of the sorrow that can lurk on the fringes of happy hearths. Hanna essentially embodies peace and order of social man at his vital best. But disruption -- via two cosmopolitan Jews, and two callous, expedient Poles -- causes the dissolution of Hanna's brewery, its extended family, and, in a larger sense, a trust in life itself. Asher uses symbolic episodes with acute effect: the funeral of the spiritual Bracha paralleling a brutal strangling of dogs in a snow-pure woods; the re-appearance of the burning bed. Skip the bland introduction by Israel Cohen, and don't miss this.