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Anzia Yezierska

(1885 - 1970)

Anzia Yezierska was a Jewish-American novelist and short story writer known for her vibrant portrayals of immigrant life in the early 20th century. Born in Plinsk, a small village in Poland, which was part of the Russian Empire at the time, she immigrated to the United States around the turn of the century. Settling in New York's Lower East Side, Yezierska's experiences in the tenements among other Jewish immigrants formed the backdrop for her poignant and often autobiographical stories.

Writing in English, her second language, Yezierska captured the struggles and aspirations of the Jewish immigrant community, focusing on themes of assimilation, poverty, gender roles, and the generational clash between traditional values and the American dream. Her first and most acclaimed novel, "Bread Givers" (1925), is a classic tale of a young Jewish-American woman's quest for independence and identity in the face of cultural tradition and economic hardship.

Throughout the 1920s, Yezierska was celebrated as a fresh voice in American literature, her work resonating with readers who identified with the immigrant experience. However, during the Great Depression, her popularity waned, though she continued to write. Rediscovered during the feminist movement of the 1960s and 1970s, Anzia Yezierska's narratives have since been recognized for their vivid, firsthand accounts of the immigrant struggle, making her a critical figure in both Jewish-American and feminist literary history.

Short Stories member since March 2024