The Heart Stirring Sermon

Avraham Reisen, Author, Curt Leviant, Editor, Abraham Reisen, Author Overlook Press $23.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-87951-436-5
Though the Jewish world depicted by popular Yiddish writer Reisen (1876-1953) has disappeared, he vividly and poignantly captured it in these stories, here published in English for the first time. Most of the tales take place in small Eastern European villages and focus on people oppressed by dire poverty, yet sustained by their culture and religion. Told in simple language and quick, revealing details, the stories are brief but, taken together, have the amplitude and depth to encompass a lost way of life. ``Avraham the Shoemaker'' depends for his livelihood on autumn rain, which produces abundant mud. When he discovers the streets are to be paved, he takes to his bed and soon dies. In ``When Does Mama Eat?'' seven-year-old Leybele, who knows from studying Genesis that ``angels can't eat when they assume the guise of human beings,'' realizes he has never seen his mother ingest food. He begins to watch her closely, and though he doesn't resolve the question (``Could Mama possibly be an angel?'') he learns a great deal about her selfless nurturing of the family. Beloved by Yiddish readers and critics, Reisen's work now sparkles in English, thanks to Leviant's deft translation. (July)
Reviewed on: 11/04/1991
Release date: 11/01/1991
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