Q Why did you choose to work on Arguing with the Storm?
A Arguing with the Storm began with the Winnipeg Women’s Yiddish Reading Circle, established in 2000 by a feisty group of seniors to read work by women in the original Yiddish. As the readings expanded, some members began to independently translate the stories for those in the Circle with less Yiddish. I was first able to encounter the stories through these translations and was immediately struck by the power of the voices in translation. Once I had learned more about the authors and their stories, I suggested that an anthology of translations be compiled for publication. For those stories that we decided to include, we began aback-and-forth process of translating and editing.
Q Who are the authors featured? What are some of the themes?
A Authors included are: Bryna Bercovitch, Rochel Broches, Paula Frankel-Zaltzman, Frume Halpern, Sarah Hamer-Jacklyn, Malka Lee, Rikuda Potash, Anne Viderman and our sole living author, Chava Rosenfarb. The collection traverses a wide cultural landscape with selections which range in time period from the early 1900s to the 1970s, and in theme from comic shtetl tale to sharp psychological satire, from heartrending Holocaust memoir to stories of the challenges of transition from the Old World to New.
Q What were some of the most interesting moments you experienced while working on this project?
A Working with the translators was an inspiring experience; I am so grateful for the wisdom, skill and patience they brought to this task. Another experiencing was searching for details about the deceased author’s lives and images of their faces for the biographies included in this book. As their faces emerged from blurry newspaper images or formal studio portraits and as the facts of their lives, however sparse, began to fall into place, this context gave their work a deeper richness.
Q Why will this book appeal to readers?
A I believe these women’s lives and writing, which came so close to oblivion in many cases, can tell us much about ourselves. The humour, wit and insight their writing reveals expands the narrow vision of the stereotypical portrayals of Jewish women’s lives of these times.