‘All Souls’ still rules
Ten years ago Michael Patrick MacDonald generated controversy with his memoir about violence, addiction, and poverty in South Boston. Beacon Press, the publisher, heralded the book in ads on the T, but the first-time author was criticized by some for his exposé.
Today “All Souls: A Family Story from Southie” is one of Beacon’s all-time, top 10 titles, with sales of 250,000. The book is taught in high schools and colleges and, starting tomorrow, ads on the Red Line will mark its 10-year anniversary.
MacDonald is in high demand. He teaches a course called Nonfiction Writing and Social Justice Issues at Northeastern University where he is author in residence. He is finishing the “All Souls” screenplay for director Ron Shelton and is working on a new book. What keeps him fired up are the notes he receives from students all over the country who are moved by his story.
More than 1.5 million books representing up to 65 percent of all the titles published in Yiddish have been rescued from attics and storerooms. Many Jews who settled in a new country felt that they should abandon the books of their homeland. Exhibits at the center illuminate the history of Yiddish, once a language of three-fourths of the world’s Jews.
The center houses a bookstore with diverse offerings, including novels, cookbooks, children’s books, and guides to learning Yiddish. English translations of Yiddish books are being published through a joint venture of the center and Yale University Press. Due out in November is “The End of Everything,” David Bergelson’s novel about upwardly mobile Jews in the waning years of the Russian Empire.
The fall literary series begins Oct. 18, with Pulitzer Prize winner Madeleine Blais leading a discussion with novelist Jay Neugeboren. Details at www. yiddishbookcenter.org.
■ “Conquering Fear: Living Boldly in an Uncertain World,” by Harold S. Kushner (Knopf)
■ “Crude World: The Violent Twilight of Oil,” by Peter Maass (Knopf)
Jan Gardner can be reached at JanLGardner@yahoo.com.