Wex, Michael 1954–
Wex, Michael 1954–
PERSONAL: Born 1954. Education: Graduated from college.
CAREER: Freelance writer and translator.
Shlepping the Exile, Mosaic Press (Oakville, Ontario, Canada), 1993.
(Translator) S.Y. Abramovitsh, The Wishing Ring (novel), Syracuse University Press (Syracuse, NY), 2003.
(Translator, with Ken Frieden and Ted Gorelick) Classic Yiddish Stories of S.Y. Abramovitsh, Sholem Aleichem, and I.L. Peretz, Syracuse University Press (Syracuse, NY), 2004.
Born to Kvetch: Yiddish Language and Culture in All of Its Moods, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2005.
Has also provided Yiddish translations and adaptations of plays such as The Threepenny Opera. Contributing editor, Lilith.
SIDELIGHTS: Dubbed "a Yiddish national treasure," by fellow linguist Henry Sapoznik in a quote from the author's home page, Michael Wex has introduced readers and audiences to the versatility of Yiddish through translations of plays and stories, informal lectures at hotels and recreation centers, stand-up comedy routines, and university courses. In Born to Kvetch: Yiddish Language and Culture in All of Its Moods he provides an insider's analysis of the historical and religious factors that have shaped the famously colorful language and the people who speak it. While his trademark humor is in evidence throughout the book, the author is also "frank, tough-minded, and profoundly honest," attested Library Journal contributor Gene Shaw, in confronting the dark history of poverty, oppression, and hatred that first inspired medieval Jews to create their own language and that have shaped it over the centuries. By analyzing the origins and nuances of words such as schmuck and putz he provides a look at the psychology behind these humorous epitaphs, as well as the cultural and religious factors that have shaped that psychology. The book is organized along broad themes, such as the experience of exile in Jewish history or the influence of superstition, but he freely ranges over numerous tangential topics. For a Publishers Weekly reviewer, the resulting "treasure trove of linguistics, sociology, history and folklore offers a fascinating look at … a unique and enduring language."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Library Journal, August 1, 2005, Gene Shaw, review of Born to Kvetch: Yiddish Language and Culture in All of Its Moods, p. 87.
Publishers Weekly, July 11, 2005, review of Born to Kvetch, p. 77.
Fass Speakers Bureau Web site, http://www.fasspr.com/fsb/ (November 23, 2005), profile of Michael Wex.
Michael Wex Home Page, http://hometown.aol.ca/myveksl/wex (November 23, 2005).