VERBITSKY, BERNARDO (1907–1979), Argentinean author. The son of Russian immigrant parents, he was born in Buenos Aires and became a major figure in Argentine literature of the 20th century. His family was quite poor as he was growing up and he had a rather difficult childhood. In his 1977 autobiographical novel Hermana y sombra, Verbitsky describes his early family life, fraught with poverty, and the general immigrant milieu in which he was raised. Verbitsky's upbringing in a lower-class working family made him sensitive to the plight of the poor and working classes. Through his parents' sacrifice, he was able to attend the university where he studied journalism, medicine, and law, as well as the humanities. He worked primarily as a journalist for more than 20 years and he held a variety of editorial posts, including for the journal Davar, one of the leading Jewish publications in Buenos Aires, and was press officer of the Israel embassy. Verbitsky wrote a vast corpus of books including some 20 works of fiction and three volumes of literary criticism. He established himself as a central figure in Argentinean literature, and was particularly known for his works of social realism. He belonged to the Boedo group of writers, a politically motivated group of authors who cultivated the idea of literature as means of political protest. Verbitsky received numerous literary awards and prizes throughout his career.
His most well-known works include the novels En esos años (1947), which deals partially with the Holocaust; Es difícil empezar a vivir (1963), a critical look at being Jewish in Argentina; and Villa miseria también es América (1957), one of his most widely read novels for its denunciation of social inequities in Latin America. He was also an accomplished short-story writer, with his best known works in this genre being Café de los angelitos (1949), Calles de tango (1966), and A pesar de todo (1978). This last volume contains the story "La culpa," which is an eloquent allegory of the Shoah.
[Darrell B. Lockhart (2nd ed.)]