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Friday, July 14, 2017

A life full of surprises

“A story to me means a plot where there is some surprise. Because that is how life is - full of surprises.“ – Isaac Bashevis Singer

Nobel Prize winning author Singer was born in Poland on this date in 1902.  He grew up in the tradition of Yiddish storytelling and did his entire body of work first in Yiddish and then in English, the language he adopted after emigrating to the U.S. in 1935.

Prior to winning the Nobel, he also was awarded two U.S. National Book Awards, one in Children's Literature for his memoir A Day Of Pleasure: Stories of a Boy Growing Up in Warsaw, and one in Fiction for his collection A Crown of Feathers and Other Stories.  One of his best-known stories was about a girl named Yentl, basis for the hit movie by Barbra Streisand.

Singer settled in New York City, where he first took up work as a journalist and columnist for The Jewish Daily Forward.  Much of his early writing was serialized in that newspaper and then expanded to others around the world.        After focusing his efforts on independent writing, he published at least 18 novels, 14 children's books, a number of memoirs, essays and many dozens of widely published stories.

He always expressed that it is a writer’s responsibility to be a conduit for the oral traditions of his or her culture even if it meant sharing in others’ concepts or ideas.  “Originality is not seen in single words or even in sentences,” he said.  “Originality is the sum total of a man's thinking or his writing.”

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