Discussion dates

Forbes Library is excited to be participating in the Yiddish Book Center’s “Coming to America” Reading Groups for Public Libraries.

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 being presented as 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. The Yiddish Book Center’s “Coming to America” Reading Groups for Public Libraries is a reading and discussion program to engage teens and adults in thinking about the experience of immigrants encountering America. The “Coming to America” reading 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.

According to Yiddish Book Center Executive Director Susan Bronson, “We were thrilled to receive ninety-five applications from libraries in thirty states to see applicants ranging from large libraries in major cities to small libraries in rural communities. The strong response to this program illustrates the interest in fostering deep conversations about the immigrant experience in America.”

The program will feature 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.

In this program, librarians arrange reading groups to discuss three books of Yiddish literature in translation, and one book related to an immigrant community served by their library. The Yiddish Book Center provides each library with copies of the selected translations for each member of the reading group, as well as discussion and resource guides.

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; A Jewish Refugee in New York, by Kadya Molodovsky; and Enemies, A Love Story, by Isaac Bashevis Singer. 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.

To learn more about the Yiddish Book Center’s “Coming to America” Reading Groups for Public Libraries and to view a list of the selected public libraries, visit www.yiddishbookcenter.org/language-literature-culture/yiddish-book-centers-decade-discovery/coming-america-reading-groupsyiddishbookcenter.org/public-library-reading-groups.

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

All four books are currently available for borrowing in the Reference area. The first two titles are also available as e-books on the library’s Kindles.

Please join the discussion group on Thursday afternoons or Wednesday evenings.

Discussion dates