Subjects Freshman Year Reading African American Studies African Studies American Studies Anthropology Art, Film, Music and Architecture Asian Studies Business and Economics Criminology Education Environmental Studies Foreign Language Instructional Materials Gender Studies History Irish Studies Jewish Studies Latin American & Caribbean Studies Law and Legal Studies Literature and Drama Literature in Spanish Media Issues, Journalism and Communication Middle East Studies Native American Studies Philosophy Political Science Psychology Reference Religion Russian and Eastern European Studies Science and Mathematics Sociology Study Aids

E-Newsletters: Click here to be notified of new titles in your field
Click here to request Desk/Exam copies
Freshman Year Reading
View Our Award Winners
Click here to view our Catalogs
The Free Thinkers

The Free Thinkers

Upgrade to the Flash 9 viewer for enhanced content, including the ability to browse & search through your favorite titles.
Click here to learn more!

Order Exam Copy
  • About this Book
E-Mail this Page Print this Page
Add This - The Free Thinkers

Written by Layle SilbertAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Layle Silbert

  • Format: Trade Paperback, 320 pages
  • Publisher: Seven Stories Press
  • On Sale: July 10, 2001
  • Price: $14.95
  • ISBN: 978-1-58322-075-7 (1-58322-075-5)
Also available as a hardcover.
about this book

Layle Silbert’s stories trace struggles and joys of lives overlooked. In The Free Thinkers: Two Novellas, she gives these lost lives a new voice, recovering in exacting detail the world of newly arrived Eastern European Jews in turn-of-the-century-America. Silbert’s stories chronicle their arrival in Chicago and New York, and follow them as they trade Yiddish and Russian for English, find work in factories and Jewish newspapers, attend Zionist meetings, and struggle toward the promise of freedom and happiness.

The Free Thinkers tells two tales. The first novella focuses on Ida, an independent woman, a “freethinker” devoted to finding her own way in America. A factory forelady, a patron of the theater, and an instinctive feminist, she is determined to find total freedom in a man’s world-no matter where it leads her.

The collection’s other novella chronicles the lives of three sisters from the Ukraine as they find husbands and start their own families in America. Two masterful chapters at the heart of the novella describe their mother's arrival, after the great war and the revolution, to a small Indiana town. She is “a vision, in her clothes, her posture, the very air around her, a vision of a sight on a street in the village they’d all come from, suddenly seamlessly transported into this pleasant spring morning to the very middle of America.”

In Layle Silbert’s tender Stories of the New World, as in the best stories of Chekov, the slightest gesture carries with it the weight of the world. Nothing happens, everything happens. Silbert’s writing is delicate, as if dusted by the wings of a visiting angel, here to present for posterity the way things were.

“A splendid and exciting book…Silbert writes with a keenly observing eye and ear, and creates characters who are different yet familiar. It is yet another successful artistic attempt to portray the shetl personality torn from its roots and replanted in foreign soil.” — Jewish Currents