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... At the onset of the 1930s, my disillusionment with myself reached a stage in which I had lost all hope. If truth be told, I had had little of it to lose. Hitler was on the verge of assuming power in Germany. The Polish fascists proclaimed that as far as the Jews were concerned they had the same plans for them as did the Nazis. It was summer and the heat engulfed Warsaw ...
... Thank God, none of my fears and premonitions came true. I wasn’t detained on Ellis Island. The Immigration officers didn’t make any trouble for me. My brother Joshua and a fellow writer of his, Zygmunt Salkin, a member of the Anglo-Jewish press in America, came to meet me at the ship. After a few formalities I was seated in Salkin’s car. I wanted to carry my valises but Zygmunt Salkin snatched them out of my hands ...

Gehenna

Walter Kendrick, 2 August 1984

The Brothers Singer 
by Clive Sinclair.
Allison and Busby, 176 pp., £8.95, April 1983, 0 85031 275 2
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The Penitent 
by Isaac BashevisSinger, translated by Joseph Singer.
Cape, 170 pp., £7.95, March 1984, 0 224 02192 3
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... When Isaac BashevisSinger won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1978, not everyone was gratified. Clive Sinclair begins The Brothers Singer with a quotation from a BBC radio interview broadcast minutes after the award had been announced: the ‘astounded’ interviewer suspected that ‘some kind of American Mafia’ was at work in the Nobel Committee, while the ‘serious’ Professor Bradbury, discounting this theory, ascribed Singer’s triumph to ‘the domination of American writing in the world today ...

Even if I married a whole harem of women I’d still act like a bachelor

Elaine Showalter: Isaac BashevisSinger, 17 September 1998

Shadows on the Hudson 
by Isaac BashevisSinger, translated by Joseph Sherman.
Hamish Hamilton, 560 pp., £16.99, June 1998, 0 241 13940 6
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Isaac BashevisSingerA Life 
by Janice Hadda.
Oxford, 254 pp., £22.50, February 1998, 0 19 508420 9
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... The posthumous English publication of Isaac BashevisSinger’s mammoth novel Shadows on the Hudson has created such a tumel. Critics have been arguing about the quality of the novel, originally serialised in 1957-58 in the New York Yiddish newspaper the Forward; and about the reasons Singer did not have it translated during his lifetime ...

Two Poems

Alan Ross, 23 February 1995

... it, laced with cyanide, Leaking from Oswiecim. Bypassing Lublin The name printed on a sign: Isaac BashevisSinger country. Beards Fashioned out of smoke, cloaks bellying over boots. The streets reek prayer, persecution. In Plac Litweski they play chess Under ignored monuments: Unknown Soldier, Union of ...

The Slap

Michael Wilding, 17 April 1986

The Image, and Other Stories 
by Isaac BashevisSinger.
Cape, 310 pp., £9.95, February 1986, 0 224 02357 8
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... There is no doubt about the achievement of Isaac BashevisSinger. He is one of the foremost storytellers of our time. His output has been prolific and now, in his 82nd year, comes a collection of a further 22 stories. Gathered from twenty years of magazine publication, translated from the Yiddish sometimes by the author himself, sometimes by or in collaboration with others, they nonetheless have a consistency of tone ...

Singer’s Last Word

John Bayley, 24 October 1991

Scum 
by Isaac BashevisSinger, translated by Rosaline Dukalsky Schwartz.
Cape, 224 pp., £13.99, October 1991, 0 224 03200 3
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... for a people to write about itself can be both inspiration and good business. It certainly was for Isaac BashevisSinger. His incomparable sense of Polish Jewry, the Yiddishness in which he was brought up, renders itself to the reader as if in the palpable form of experience: the words seem to sit us down and bring us ...

Beltz’s Beaux

D.A.N. Jones, 3 March 1983

Marienbad 
by Sholom Aleichem, translated by Aliza Shevrin.
Weidenfeld, 222 pp., £7.95, February 1983, 0 297 78200 2
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A Coin in Nine Hands 
by Marguerite Yourcenar, translated by Dori Katz.
Aidan Ellis, 192 pp., £7.95, January 1983, 0 85628 123 9
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Entry into Jerusalem 
by Stanley Middleton.
Hutchinson, 172 pp., £7.50, January 1983, 0 09 150950 5
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People Who Knock on the Door 
by Patricia Highsmith.
Heinemann, 306 pp., £7.95, January 1983, 0 434 33521 5
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A Visit from the Footbinder 
by Emily Prager.
Chatto, 174 pp., £7.95, February 1983, 0 7011 2675 2
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Dusklands 
by J.M. Coetzee.
Secker, 125 pp., £6.95, January 1983, 9780436102967
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... Aliza Shevrin has served her apprenticeship as one of the dutiful translators of Isaac BashevisSinger, along with Ruth Schachner Finkel, Rosanna Gerber, Dorothea Straus et al. She seems no less expert with the Yiddish of an older master, Sholom Aleichem, best-known to English readers as the chronicler of the Jewish poor in the shtetl of the 1880s, the low-life, high-thinking world of Fiddler on the Roof ...

Uncle Zindel

Gabriele Annan, 2 September 1982

The Collected Stories of Isaac BashevisSinger 
Cape, 610 pp., £10.50, July 1982, 0 224 02024 2Show More
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... Isaac Singer is a man of far away and long ago. He was born in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1904. His father was a Hassidic rabbi from a Jewish shtetl in Galicia, a place almost untouched by the Industrial Revolution and sealed off from modern thinking, where from dawn to dusk every activity was elaborately regulated by tribal custom and religious ritual ...

Pretty Things

Peter Campbell, 21 February 1980

Masquerade 
by Kit Williams.
Cape, 32 pp., £3.50, September 1980, 0 224 01617 2
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Beauty and the Beast 
by Rosemary Harris and Errol Le Cain.
Faber, 32 pp., £3.50, October 1980, 0 571 11374 5
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Mazel and Shlimazel 
by Isaac BashevisSinger and Margot Zemach.
Cape, 42 pp., £3.95, November 1980, 0 224 01758 6
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La Corona 
by Russell Hoban and Nicola Bayley.
Cape, 32 pp., £3.50, September 1980, 0 224 01397 1
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Cats’Eyes 
by Anthony Taber.
Gollancz, 80 pp., £4.50, September 1980, 0 575 02664 2
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Comic and Curious Cats 
by Angela Carter and Martin Leman.
Gollancz, 32 pp., £3.50, April 1980, 0 575 02592 1
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The Wild Washerwomen 
by John Yeoman and Quentin Blake.
Hamish Hamilton, 32 pp., £3.75, October 1980, 0 241 89928 1
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... indeed. One wants a collection of tales from her, not a single story that has been overdressed. Isaac BashevisSinger’s Mazel and Schli-mazel also lives well by words alone. There is no feeling that Singer was constrained by his memory of the version of the story he was told by ...

Paley’s People

Angela Carter, 17 April 1980

The Little Disturbances of Man 
by Grace Paley.
Virago, 192 pp., £2.50, March 1980, 0 86068 127 0
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Enormous Changes at the Last Minute 
by Grace Paley.
Virago, 208 pp., £1.95, May 1979, 0 86068 108 4
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... the only one of all these stories that has a strong flavour of another writer. In this case, Isaac BashevisSinger, with whom Paley shares a tradition and an idiom. All the same, all the narrative roles Paley undertakes are those of the same kind of marginal people, with essentially the same exhausted, oblique ...

Spivsville

Jonathan Bate, 27 July 1989

Train, Train 
by Graham Coster.
Bloomsbury, 225 pp., £12.95, June 1989, 9780747503941
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The Philosophers 
by Alex Comfort.
Duckworth, 176 pp., £12.95, June 1989, 9780715625118
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The King of the Fields 
by Isaac BashevisSinger.
Cape, 256 pp., £10.95, July 1989, 0 224 02663 1
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Sister Hollywood 
by C.K. Stead.
Collins, 224 pp., £11.95, June 1989, 0 00 223479 3
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Penelope’s Hat 
by Ronald Frame.
Hodder, 440 pp., £12.95, July 1989, 0 340 49397 6
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... the reader is left in no doubt that politically, sexually and tonally the narrator is the author. Isaac BashevisSinger’s new novel goes to the opposite extreme and, once the first four words are out of the way (The story begins – when?’), effaces the narrator altogether. The King of the Fields concerns ...

The Light Waters of Amnion

Dan Jacobson: Bruno Schulz, 1 July 1999

The Collected Works of Bruno Schulz 
edited by Jerzy Ficowski.
Picador, 582 pp., £50, December 1998, 0 330 34783 7
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... control the more adjectives and adverbs he throws after them. In past years John Updike and Isaac BashevisSinger, among others, have made large claims on Schulz’s behalf. While his imaginative vigour is indeed comparable with that of his great European predecessors, his work lacks their ruthless logic, the ...

‘OK, holy man, try this

Ian Hamilton: The Hypothetical Philip Roth, 22 June 2000

The Human Stain 
by Philip Roth.
Cape, 361 pp., £16.99, May 2000, 0 224 06090 2
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... to the saintly Lonoff (who Roth persistently refuses to ‘identify’ as Bernard Malamud or Isaac BashevisSinger, the critics’ choices). Zuckerman, too, has scores to settle and finds it impossible to keep his mouth shut. He, too, is possessed by demons and would sometimes quite like to turn into a ...

Mid-Century Male

Christopher Glazek: Edmund White, 19 July 2012

Jack Holmes and His Friend 
by Edmund White.
Bloomsbury, 390 pp., £18.99, January 2012, 978 1 4088 0579 4
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... one more form of commercialism’. The break came when he was assigned to review a collection by Isaac BashevisSinger. The gripping narratives, ‘telling details’ and ‘humanity’ made him yearn for a time before the ‘classy jugglers’ of modernism vandalised the ‘tradition of Tolstoy and Chekhov’. By ...

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