Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Bociany by Chava Rosenfarb

Yiddish Novels

Bociany (2000) by Chava Rosenfarb [born in 1923 in Lodz, Poland; died in 2011 in Lethbridge, Alberta Canada]. The title means “storks” in Polish, named after the large, long-legged, long-necked water bird with noticeable bills. I am not sure if this was the writer’s intent, an allusion of sorts, but there is also a village in Poland with the same name, about 60 km north of Lodz, Rosenfarb’s home town. Rosenfarb lived in Montreal between 1950 and 1998, where the bulk of her literary efforts were realized. Afterward, she migrated westward, first to Toronto and then to Lethbridge. Originally published in Yiddish as Botshani in 1982. The novel, the writer’s website says, is “named after an imaginary Polish village, Bociany, based loosely on the lives of Rosenfarb’s parents, follows the intertwined fates of a young boy and girl from the shtetl of Bociany who meet again as young adults in the city of Lodz, where they marry.” The novel, set in pre-war Poland, looks at the relations between the Jews living in a village and the surrounding Christians. Rosenfarb herself translated this novel from Yiddish into English. The English translation, part of a two-volume set that includes Of Lodz and Love (2000), earned Rosenfarb the John Glassco Prize for Literary Translation for 2000.
Photo Credit: ©2017. Perry J. Greenbaum