Have I Got a Story for You: More Than a Century of Fiction from the Forward

Have I Got a Story for You is a fascinating and delightful collection of fiction from the venerable Yiddish newspaper the Forward. Few Yiddish writers still enjoy broad readership, yet their work speaks to a modern condition: that of the immigrant and the outsider. For more than a century, this anthology reminds us, the Forward, now published in English, too, has given voice to American Jews.

The anthology is sectioned thematically. "Immigration and Its Discontents" dives straight into issues of integration; stories by Sarah Hamer-Jacklyn and B. Kovner--whose character Yente became eponymous for the neighborhood busybody--are standouts. "Modern Times" wrestles with changing social and sexual mores. In "World on Fire," writers including Sholem Asch and Israel Joshua Singer confront the horrors of two world wars. Conspicuously absent are stories of the Holocaust, which, editor Ezra Glinter suggests, was too great and too recent a trauma to be processed as fiction. Nostalgia drives the narrative in "The Old Country." There is a story by the great Isaac Bashevis Singer here, and Kadya Molodowsky and Chaim Grade are wonderful (re)discoveries. The final section, "New Horizons," reflects the diverse styles of contemporary writers working in the last few decades.

With a few exceptions, the fiction contains brief slices of life, emphasizing a narrator's voice that is typically rich with humor and pathos. Have I Got a Story for You is a big-hearted anthology reflective of a nation of immigrants. --Zak Nelson, writer and bookseller

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