Anzia Yezierska

Bread Givers

The acclaimed novel of Jewish immigrant life on New York City’s Lower East Side from the literary phenomenon known as the “Cinderella of the Tenements.”
It is Manhattan in the 1920s, and the Polish American Smolinsky family struggles to survive in their home on Hester Street. At ten years old, Sara, the youngest daughter, is keenly aware of the family’s precarious financial situation. With food scarce, her unemployed and domineering father, a rabbi who spends his days studying, depends on the wages of his daughters. After years of watching him destroy the hopes and dreams of her three older sisters, Sara runs away, but forging a life for herself is not easy. She faces obstacles due to her background and gender, while working long days in a laundry and studying to become a teacher at night. Constantly rising above her circumstances—and her father’s grasping reach—Sara finally finds happiness and love.
Written in 1925 by Jewish American novelist Anzia Yezierska, Bread Givers describes “the emotional tone of an immigrant family in the dismal tenement of an overcrowded block of the east side of New York. It is a complex mood of grave joy and bottomless anguish, of Old World standards and New World values of hope and struggle and defeat and achievement” (The New York Times).
“Paints real trials—and triumph—of immigrant women . . . The story of Sara’s lonely struggles in an unforgiving world is a classic one. More than eight decades since its publication, this novel is a gem in Jewish-American literature.” —The Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle
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