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About the Author
Anzia Yezierska (1882-1970) was born in Poland and came to the Lower East Side of New York with her family in 1890 when she was nine years old. By the 1920s she had risen out of poverty and become a successful writer of stories, novels; all autobiographical; and an autobiography, Red Ribbon on a White Horse (Persea). Her novel Bread Givers (Persea) is considered a classic of Jewish American fiction. Her acclaimed books also include How I Found America: Collected Stories and The Open Cage. She died in 1970.
Blanche H. Gelfant is a scholar and critic of 20th century American literature. Gelfant is the recipient of the Jay B. Hubbell Medal for lifetime achievement in American literary scholarship. Her books range from Cross-Cultural Reckonings: A Triptych of Russian, American, and Canadian Texts, to Women Writing in America: Voices in Collage, and the pioneering study The American City Novel. She is the Robert E. Maxwell Professor of Arts and Sciences and Professor of English Emerita at Dartmouth College.
Table of Contents
Hungry HeartsIntroduction by Blanche H. Gelfant
Suggestions for Further Reading
A Note on the Text
The Lost "Beautifulness"
The Free Vacation House
Where Lovers Dream
Soap and Water
"The Fat of the Land"
My Own People
How I Found America
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Anzia Yezierska was a very well known writer about the Jewish immigrant experience in the early part of the 20th Century, to the extent that her stories were made into movies. Hungry Hearts is a collection of her short stories which are mostly variations on a theme: a young Jewish girl in Russia dreams of freedom of the soul and intellect in America, but when she gets here finds instead only the soul-crushing reality of drudgery in the sweat shops. However, these girls never let go of their dreams . . . dreams of artistic freedom, romantic love or, in one story, simply a friend to share her emotions and experiences with. Sounds a bit corny to our modern sensibilities, maybe, but Yezierska is able to bore down so close to her protagonist's deepest feelings with very simple language (although skillfully rendered into a believable but not impenetrable Yiddish accent) that the emotionalism is kept to a minimum. We get a true, if slightly overwrought, sense of what our grandparents (for those of us of European immigrant stock) went through, the highs and lows of expectations, dreams and realities of the desperate dash to America. It should give many of us a firmer grasp on the bounties they earned for us to enjoy.
The writing was quite simple, but it gave an excellent picture of the life of immigrants to this country in the 1920's. It provided much for me to think about, and I wonder whether immigrants have it much better today. The book is comprised of short stories, all of which I found interesting. Yezierska lived such a life, which I prefer over a book written by someone imagining how these people live.