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WRITINGS ON YIDDISH AND YIDDISHKAYT, THE WAR YEARS, 1939-1945

Sheds light on the early, developmental years of the young, passionate writer.

Newly translated essays show Singer as a journalist and columnist.

Stromberg, translator and editor of the Isaac Bashevis Singer Literary Trust, collects 25 intriguing, emotional pieces by the Nobel Prize–winning author (1903-1991). They were published from 1939 to 1945 in New York City’s Forverts, a Yiddish newspaper, during a period of great turmoil in Singer’s life. Stromberg argues that these key wartime pieces are “fundamentally different from almost everything published to date,” offering a bridge between his Polish homeland and his adopted country and insights into the Holocaust’s impact on Singer as he explored cultural and religious customs and practices. “What is Kabbalah?” from late 1940, led him to formulate broader “notions that guided Jewish spiritual life throughout times of great crisis.” In an essay from Sept. 7, 1941, Singer confronted Hitler’s antisemitism head-on. “When Hitler says that the existence of the Jews is a personal insult to him,” he writes, “he’s not pulling it out of thin air.” From 1943, “Religious Jews Say That the Current War Is the War of Gog and Magog” shows Singer’s ability to “consider current events in both pragmatic-historical and mystical-philosophical terms at once.” A March 1944 essay on the Jewish language urges Jews to collect and preserve their Hebrew texts, and others from the same year lament Jewish powerlessness and argue that “American Jews need the past to be directly connected to the present.” In December 1944, he penned “Yiddish Language and Culture Undergo Their Greatest Crisis in History.” As the war wound down in the second half of 1945, Singer turned to artistic topics, such as the portrayal of Jewish life in Yiddish literature, its absence in movies (“Hollywood silences our existence”), and, most importantly, the future of Yiddish literature. Stromberg promises more collections to come.

Sheds light on the early, developmental years of the young, passionate writer.

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2023

ISBN: 9798988677307

Page Count: 180

Publisher: White Goat Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 20, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

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The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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