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Journey To My Father, Isaac Bashevis Singer
Cover of Journey To My Father, Isaac Bashevis Singer
Journey To My Father, Isaac Bashevis Singer
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When Isaac Bashevis Singer emigrated from Poland to America in 1935, he left behind his wife and five-year-old son, Israel, with the promise to send for them as soon as he got settled. He never did. Mother and child moved first to the USSR and ultimately to Israel, where Zamir grew up on a kibbutz. In 1995, twenty years after their separation, Zamir came to New York to meet his father. Singer's strengths and failings, his methods of working, his passion for the Yiddish language, his lust for words, for women, and for life, all come to new light in Zamir's candid and touching account. Journey to My Father, Isaac Bashevis Singer is a personal and moving portrait of one of this century's major writers. It is also an honest exploration of the often charged and complex relationship between father and son, and son and father.

When Isaac Bashevis Singer emigrated from Poland to America in 1935, he left behind his wife and five-year-old son, Israel, with the promise to send for them as soon as he got settled. He never did. Mother and child moved first to the USSR and ultimately to Israel, where Zamir grew up on a kibbutz. In 1995, twenty years after their separation, Zamir came to New York to meet his father. Singer's strengths and failings, his methods of working, his passion for the Yiddish language, his lust for words, for women, and for life, all come to new light in Zamir's candid and touching account. Journey to My Father, Isaac Bashevis Singer is a personal and moving portrait of one of this century's major writers. It is also an honest exploration of the often charged and complex relationship between father and son, and son and father.

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  • Publisher's Weekly

    December 29, 1997
    In this frank memoir, Zamir, an Israeli writer, describes his ambivalent relationship with his father, acclaimed Yiddish novelist Isaac Bashevis Singer (Enemies, A Love Story). Singer (1904-1991) left his wife and their five-year-old son in Poland when he immigrated to the U.S. in 1935, then reneged on his promise to send for them, subsequently divorcing Zamir's mother to marry his second wife, Alma. After a separation of 20 years, Zamir traveled to New York for a cool reunion with Singer, who did not think to provide his penniless son with money to travel around the city. Eventually their relationship became friendlier, and Zamir translated his father's works into Hebrew. Brilliant and self-centered, Singer acknowledged that he was a neglectful father and an unrepentant womanizer. Despite differences in politics and religion, Zamir came to love Singer and here provides a moving account of the time they spent together in Stockholm when Singer won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1978. Photos not seen by PW.

  • Library Journal

    Starred review from December 1, 1995
    Singer immigrated from Poland in 1935, leaving behind a wife and a five-year-old son. Mother and son, in an attempt to escape war-torn Europe, moved to the Soviet Union, were later exiled to Turkey, and eventually settled in Israel. Zamir grew up on a kibbutz, far removed from the Jewish New York experiences of his father. Twenty years later, a reunion of sorts occurred in New York. From that difficult time grew a strong bond that enriched both their lives in unexpected ways. Zamir's memoir is a testimony to the sweeping power of forgiveness and repentance. Zamir translated all of his father's works into Hebrew, accompanied him to Sweden for the Nobel Prize ceremonies, and grew to appreciate and honor his father's creative genius. Zamir's skill as a journalist shines; his memoir is beautifully written, terse, yet rich in detail. The journey, of course, leads to a fuller understanding of Singer as a writer, but we will remember the trip. Highly recommended.--Denise Sticha, Seton Hill Coll. Lib., Greensburg, Pa.

  • Booklist

    November 1, 1995
    In 1935, when Zamir was five years old, his father, Isaac Bashevis Singer, left Warsaw for New York, escaping a troubled marriage and cutting himself off from his only child. Zamir and Singer didn't meet again until the mid-1950s, when Zamir, a radical Zionist, traveled to the U.S. Zamir's account of their conflictful reunion and patient forging of a loving relationship is poignant on many levels. His well-told story embraces the tragedy of the Holocaust, the traumatic disillusionment with the Soviet Union once Stalin's horrors were revealed, and the courageous struggles of Israel, but what emerges most clearly and memorably is his portrait of Singer. Zamir came to love and revere his mystical, egocentric, and immensely talented father and even grew to understand why his father was such a "Jewish Casanova." He also translated his father's books into Hebrew. As he recounts his compelling conversations with his father, Zamir ponders Singer's belief in demons and ghosts and celebrates his endless curiosity, disciplined writing process, love of the Yiddish language, and great charm. Zamir's warm and vivid portrait proves that writing is a Singer trait. ((Reviewed November 1, 1995))(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 1995, American Library Association.)

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