A Memoir of the Lower East Side
Publication Date: 09-01-1996
Introduction by Ruth Limmer
Afterword by Lois Elias
Born in Transylvania in 1899, Bella Spewack arrived on the streets of New York's Lower East Side when she was three. At twenty-two, while working as a reporter with her husband in Europe, she wrote a memoir of her childhood that was never published. More than seventy years later, the publication of Streets recovers a remarkable voice and revivifies a lost world.
In her critically acclaimed writing, Bella describes the sights, sounds, and characters of urban Jewish immigrant life after the turn of the century. Witty, street-smart, and unsentimental, Bella was a genuine American heroine who went on to become a celebrated author.
"Streets gives us an idea of how the immigrant experience has changed, for better and worse . . . and how it has remained the same." —Los Angeles Times
"Written in the stark, naturalistic prose of a born journalist, the book provides a startling, clear-eyed look at the difficult life millions endured in what sentimentalists call a simpler, happier time in America." —Booklist
"[Bella Spewack's] voice is strong and individual. Her executors did well to bring the story to publication . . . after her death at the age of ninety-one." —New York Times Book Review
"Bella's early skills as a writer are evident in her bitter caricatures of the adults who populated this hallucinatory cityscape. Her talents and determination were her ticket out, though she leaves us mindful of the many others who had no such strengths to draw on, and no such fortunate escape." —Boston Globe
"Streets tells both the history of one immigrant girl's struggle to survive and the general history of Jewish immigration to the Lower East Side. . . . Ultimately, Streets . . . represents a triumph of will and spirit." —Jewish Week