About Oedipus in Brooklyn


Oedipus in Brooklyn

and other stories by Blume Lempel
Translated by
Ellen Cassedy &
Yermiyahu Ahron Taub

Mandel Vilar Press & Dryad Press

Oedipus in Brooklynn and Other Stories

Winner of the 2018 Modern Language Association’s Fania & Yaakov Leviant Memorial Prize in Yiddish Studies

Winner of the 2012 Translation Prize awarded by the Yiddish Book Center

Finalist, 2016 Foreword INDIES short story award

Blume Lempel is a fearless storyteller whose imagination skillfully moves between the realistic and the fantastic, the lyrical and the philosophical. Her subjects, like her settings – Paris, Poland, Brooklyn, Tel Aviv, California – range widely.

A Holocaust survivor speaks to the shadows in her garden, a pious old woman imagines romance, a New York subway commuter forges a bond with a homeless woman, and in the title story a mother is drawn into a transgressive relationship with her blind son.

Lempel’s narratives are masterpieces of poetic imagery and startling modernist touches, suffused with an abiding compassion. Readers of these stories superbly translated by Ellen Cassedy and Yermiyahu Ahron Taub are in for a startling journey.

Read a Story Online:

“The Little Red Umbrella” in Brooklyn Rail

“Neighbors over the Fence,” in Pakn Treger

“Pastorale,” in K1N

“The Debt” in In Geveb

Praise for Oedipus in Brooklyn

“Blume Lempel’s short story collection is a splendid surprise and a significant revivification of a brilliantly robust Yiddish-American writer.”
Cynthia Ozick

“These stories are a remarkable achievement. . . . She [writes] with modernist acuity, making use of stream-of-consciousness narrative techniques, with a poet’s eye for sharp, unsettling images. . . . With shrewdness, wit, and lyricism, Lempel gives voice to the women, the aging, the ill, and others who, from the margins of modern society, have had trouble making themselves heard.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Stunning…a brilliant, talented writer with one foot in the prewar world in Europe and the other in postwar America….Highly recommended for all collections of Jewish literature.”
Association of Jewish Libraries Newsletter

Richly evocative, filled with pleasure and pain, and powerfully human and humane.”
The Forward

“A varied and rich collection…imbued with a sense of mission, a hope for survival when survival itself is so doubtable.”
Jewish Book Council

“…an eclectic, original and inventive collection…”
Lilith magazine

Ellen Cassedy is one of the forces behind this new movement to collect and translate Yiddish women’s literature.”
Los Angeles Review of Books

“…sharp, vivid, and polished…”
Reading in Translation

“These are stories that deserve a cherished place in the canon of Jewish literature.”
Foreword Reviews

“These spare, skillful tales are both introspective and illuminating.”
Philip K. Jason in Washington Independent Review of Books

One of Book Riot’s 100 Must-Read Books about Women and Religion

“…rescuing a fine writer from oblivion.”
Howard Freedman, Jweekly.com

“Strange, muscled, riven with grief, Blume Lempel’s short stories are for the ages.”

“…an unusual and important voice
Reviews by Amos Lassen

“…can take a reader’s breath away….a welcome addition to the rich world of Yiddish Literature that English speakers can now enter.”
Chicago Jewish Star

“Blume Lempel conducts a conversation across multiple time zones and spheres . . . a heroic effort to create and sustain a choir of voices in Yiddish, her beloved and endangered language.”
David G. Roskies
author of Yiddishlands: A Memoir

“A wonderfully original and controversial writer….Blume Lempel left a remarkable legacy that this beautifully translated volume finally makes accessible to a wider audience.”
Anita Norich
author of Writing in Tongues: Translating Yiddish in the 20th Century 

 “The thematic and stylistic scope of Blume Lempel’s writing, as demonstrated admirably by Cassedy and Taub’s translations, is wide and richly integrated.”
Jeffrey Shandler
author of Adventures in Yiddishland: Post-vernacular Language and Culture

“This new translation of Blume Lempel’s stories reanimates the melody of Yiddish, the mame-loshen . . . As one of her characters puts it: ‘No world language is comparable to Yiddish, to the Yiddish sigh, the Yiddish sense of humor.’”
Victoria Aarons
 author of What Happened to Abraham?

About Blume Lempel

Blume Lempel (1907-1999) was born in Khorostkiv (now Ukraine). She immigrated to Paris in 1929 and fled to New York on the eve of World War II. She wrote in Yiddish into the 1990s. Her prize-winning fiction is remarkable for its psychological acuity, its unflinching examination of erotic themes and women’s lives, and its technical virtuosity. Mirroring the dislocation of the protagonists, her stories move between present and past, Old World and New, dream and reality. This book is the first English-language collection of Lempel’s stories and is based on a manuscript that won the 2012 National Yiddish Book Center Translation Prize.


Celebrating Yiddish Women Writers

Take a look at this rich compilation of poetry and fiction by women writing in Yiddish, highlights from the collections of the Yiddish Book Center. Enjoy work by writers (including Blume Lempel) in the original, in translation, in audio presentations — and read what scholars and others have to say about them.