"[Bociany] is now available in two volumes in the author's own vibrant English translation. . . . The first half tells a vivid story of life in a shtetl in the title village during the years immediately preceding WWII; specifically, it's a dramatization of the ethnic and religious traditions that form the characters of its winning protagonists, gentle Yacov and his beloved Binele. But the [book's] great character is Yacov' s resourceful mother, Hindele Polin, a crafty widow whose hard-earned wisdom and plucky survival skills make her a worthy successor to the villager heroines of Sholom Aleichem's fiction."—Kirkus Reviews
"In cogent and evocative prose, translated from the Yiddish by the author, Rosenforb describes the religious and politicial stew that was prewar Poland."—Publishers Weekly
Sholem Aleichem romanticized shtetl life. Isaac Bashevis Singer eroticized it. ln the novel Bociany and its sequel, Of Lodz and Love, Chava Rosenfarb brings a vanished world to vibrant, compelling life. Rosenfarb follows the destinies of characters from the Polish town of Bociany as they grow up, grow old, and leave the shtetl for the city.
In Bociany, Rosenfarb offers completely absorbing portrayals of Jews and Christians from several walks of life in the shtetL Her primary characters are the scribe’s widow Hindele, her son Yacov, the chalk vendor Yossele Abedale, and his daughter Binele. Jewish relations with neighboring Catholics are generally civil, if complicated. Despite living next door to a convent, Hindele finds the nuns’ behavior implacably alien.
Rosenfarb establishes an indelible sense of place, evoking its charm and the shtetl residents’ ease with the natural world. Her vivid characters and portrait of the preurban, pre-Holocaust world ring true. Yet even in isolated Bociany, new ideas—socialism, Zionism, Polish nationalism, secularism—begin to challenge the shtetl’s traditional agrarian and mercantile economy.
Chava Rosenfarb was born in Lodz, Poland. She is a survivor of the Lodz Ghetto as well as of the Auschwitz and
Bergen-Belsen concentration camps. She is the recipient of numerous literary prizes. In 1979 she was awarded the Manger Prize—the highest award for Yiddish literature for her trilogy Tree of Life (Der boim fun leib). She now resides in Canada.
6 x 9, 440 pages