Page 281 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 49

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1991 National Jewish Book Awards
AUTOB IOGRAPHY
/
MEMOIR
T
he
S
a n d r a
B
r a n d
a n d
A
r ik
W
e in t r a u b
A
w a rd
Daydreams and Nightmares: Reflections o f a Harlem Childhood,
by
Irving Louis Horowitz (University Press of Mississippi)
In
Daydreams and Nightmares,
an astonishing and candidly writ­
ten memoir, Irving Louis Horowitz has vividly portrayed the
growing up of a Jewish youngster in the Harlem of the 1930’s.
It is a story of a young boy hustling to survive. In all that hus­
tling, the youngster acquired a sense of self which enabled him
to transport a relatively stable set of definitions concerning his
personal and social identity. Reflecting on that recent past of
daydreams and nightmares, the author achieves “a certain se­
renity,” in which a “balance is struck between the abstract and
the concrete, the residues of poverty and the responsibilities
of civility.” This is a unique autobiographical work.
CH ILDREN ’S L ITERATURE
A
n it a
a n d
M
a r t in
S
ha po l sk y
A
w a rd
Becoming Gershona,
by Nava Semel, translated by Seymour
Simckes (Viking Penguin)
Becoming Gershona
is a beautifully written and translated book.
Nava Semel provides a stunning evocation of young Israel in
1958 and an equally skillful portrait of young Gershona’s par­
allel coming of age. Seeds, germination and growth form the
literal and metaphoric image as Gershona struggles to bring
her plant to blossom and to understand the family secrets from
which she is hurtfully excluded. Her observations, her devel­
oping relationship with a previously unknown blind grandfather
from America, and her attraction to a mysterious young neigh­
bor are all depicted sensitively in this fine translation which cap­
tures both the lyricism and restraint of the proud, complex char­
acters and their feelings about their emerging nation.
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