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Edited by Miriam Waddington

Don Mills (Ont.), Oxford University Press, 1990. 205pp, paper, $16.95
ISBN 0-19-540813-6

Grades 11 and up/Ages 16 and up
Reviewed by Katheryn Broughton.

Volume 19 Number 1
1991 January

"What is Canadian about a Canadian story? What is Jewish about a Jewish story? And how do Canadian Jewish stories reflect both?" These are the questions the editor attempts to answer in her introduction to this anthology. The selections are placed chronologi­cally by year of each author's birth in order to explore, first, roots in Eastern Europe; then, the immigrant experience; and, finally, contemporary perceptions of life in Canada.

The eighteen stories vary widely in theme and style, making for engrossing reading. One (Rochl Korn's "Earth") is set in Europe and depicts the cruel parsimony practised by a marginal farmer determined to own the land he has cleared. The immigrant experience is portrayed in Shirley Faessler's "Basket of Apples," in which a woman is forever grateful to be in Canada and to be married, even though she is well aware she is not appreciated by her husband and stepchildren. A Displaced Person (D.P.) after World War II is the protagonist in Chava Rosenfarb's "Greenhorn," in which a French-Canadian girl's kindness alleviates the misery of a man's first day in an unfa­miliar factory job. The story of Lionel (a Jewish boy) and his friendship with Ernst (an elderly German whose wartime past is a source of regret and shame) is deeply moving. In contrast is Adele Wiseman's tale of talkative Leuba, who is often accused of letting out family secrets. Her nervous chatter, innocent and anxious, saves their elderly boarder from being "put away."

The stories elucidate Jewish morality and the traditional quest for knowledge. Five deal with the effects of the Holo­caust, while others emphasize families - some close knit, others torn by jealousies and hate. Waddington suggests that "acceptance of difference, of the other" distinguishes Canadian from American and British fiction, and this characteristic is evident in selections by six of the writers (Kreisel, Levine, Rosenfarb, Kattan, Steinfeld and Waddington herself).

A feature of this collection is the fact that two of the stories have been translated from the original French, while another two have been translated from Yiddish. Also included are short notes on the authors.

This excellent collection is a must purchase for both school and public libraries.


Katheryn Broughton, Thornhill, Ont.
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1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995


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