“Coming to America” Library Project: Enemies, A Love Story

Date/Time
Date(s) - Wednesday, November 18, 2020
6:30 pm - 7:30 pm

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Forbes Library is excited to be participating in the Yiddish Book Center’s “Coming to America” Reading Groups for Public Libraries. These four book discussion events are now virtual and rescheduled for the Fall. The series begins on September 18 with Motl the Cantor’s Son by Sholem Aleichem.
Forbes is one of twenty-two public libraries from eighteen states that have been selected to be part of the program.

The “Coming to America” library project is part of the Yiddish Book Center’s Decade of Discovery, a major new initiative that the Center is launching in 2020 in conjunction with its 40th anniversary. “Coming to America” is a reading and discussion program to engage teens and adults in thinking about the experience of immigrants encountering America. The groups will introduce libraries and the public to Yiddish literature in translation within the context of the broader experience of immigrants adjusting to life in the United States—a topic as relevant today as it was a hundred years ago.

The program features Yiddish literature in translation that explores questions of identity, assimilation, language, cuisine, and generational change, presenting American identity as an ongoing conversation, a give and take between insiders and outsiders. Each library’s reading group will compare works written in Yiddish in the early 20th century to works by contemporary immigrant writers.

Our group will read three books of Yiddish literature in translation about the immigrant experience in America: Motl the Cantor’s Son, by Sholem Aleichem; Enemies, A Love Story, by Isaac Bashevis Singer; and A Jewish Refugee in New York, by Kadya Molodovsky. For our fourth title, we will be reading On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong. Ocean Vuong was born in Saigon, Vietnam, and immigrated to the United States at the age of two. He received an MFA from New York University. In addition to this novel, he is the author of poetry collections including Night Sky with Exit Wounds, which received the 2017 Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection from the Forward Arts Foundation and the T. S. Eliot Prize. Vuong has received numerous honors and awards, including a Lannan Literary Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize, a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship, and a Whiting Award. In 2019, he was named a recipient of the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. He teaches at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Copies of the books can be borrowed during self-service hours from the display area at the library, or reserved for curbside pickup.

Everyone is invited to join the discussion group on Zoom, the third Wednesday of the month at 6:30 PM. Preregistration is required.

November 18: Enemies, A Love Story
December 16: On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous

For details, book descriptions and to preregister, see https://forbeslibrary.org/events/coming-to-america/.

The Yiddish Book Center’s “Coming to America” Reading Groups for Public Libraries is made possible by a gift from Sharon Karmazin.