The Northampton Arts Council is an organization whose goal is to support and promote the arts in Northampton. Originally created as a Local Arts Lottery Council, it began its work by administering a grants program in which proceeds from a state lottery are distributed to local artists, arts groups, and public schools.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

“Coming to America” Reading Groups for Public Libraries at Forbes/Northampton



WHAT: Yiddish Book Center’s “Coming to America” Reading Groups for Public Libraries.
WHERE: Forbes Library 20 West Street, Northampton MA. 
WHEN: Discussion group on Thursday afternoons or Wednesday evenings.
              The discussion dates are March 12 & 18; April 9 & 15; May 13 & 14; June 10 & 11.

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 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. “Coming to America” is a reading and discussion program to engage teens and adults in thinking about the experience of immigrants encountering America. The 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.

The program features 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.

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

All four books are currently available for borrowing in the Reference area. Everyone is invited to join the discussion group on Thursday afternoons or Wednesday evenings. The discussion dates are March 12 & 18; April 9 & 15; May 13 & 14; June 10 & 11. For details and schedule, see https://forbeslibrary.org/events/coming-to-america/ .

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

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