The unforgettable saga of two immigrant families and the forbidden love that could not keep them apart.
“East River” is a novel by Sholem Asch, first published in 1946, and a New York Times bestseller of that year. Unlike the denser Jewish pockets of the lower East Side of New York, East 48th Street by the river was, even at the beginning of the twentieth century, an international neighborhood made up of Orthodox Jews, Catholic Irish, nostalgic Poles, chauvinistic Italians, all hungry, all overworked, all insecure.
But although these folk were all, so to speak, melting in the same pot, they were kept at a certain distance from one another, by their inherited prejudices, the most pernicious of which were supplied by their religions. To allow them to live together and work together toward a happier life, and to turn them from their European pasts toward a high American future, they needed, in Asch’s view, the religion of love. And the same religion was needed to get the bosses and workers together in the garment industry, so as to end the sweatshops, the subcontracting system, and destructive strikes.
Set in the diverse, impoverished neighborhood of 48th Street and the East River in Manhattan, during the years before World War I, Asch’s novel is a captivating tale of the inevitable and wrenching consequences of peaceful coexistence between Jews and Christians.
What a book!
The inflection, the tender offering of the history of New York City and it's immigrants around WWII, philosophy told with passion and desire! Sholem Asch reads like a staged drama. The characters are alive, complicated, vigorous and sensual yet simple. It is a natural for the reader to empathize with them. There is no contortion reading East River. The story rushes toward the reader rather than the reader working to follow it. Refreshing (!) and so dear. East River says, "Read me! I will take your hand and we'll go on a trip through time." After reading the last line and closing the book you will thank the author for loving his readers.