Very Comprehensive Bio on Sholem Asch from the Yivo Encyclopaedia of Eastern European Jews
“Sholem Asch discovered new human resources among the east European Jews, his story “Kola Road” becoming famous as a celebration of the proste, the common folk, and the grobe yungn, the vulgar ignoramuses.* - Irving Howe, from World of Our Fathers:The Journey of Eastern European Jews to America and the World They Made and Found
“Kola Street” is an unflinching look at the violence and social conflicts within Jewish society in Warsaw in the days between the world wars. The story begins with an account of the Kola Street Jews, the roughest elements of Jewish society and their relationship to upper class Jews. The narrator tells us that the rich may scorn the common people of Kola Street but whenever gentile thugs come to attack them they call for the help of Kola Street residents. When -ever funds are needed to support scholarships for the study of the Torah, the rich ask Kola Street for help. After a very interesting prelude in which Asch gives a wonderful description of the various aspects of the community, he begins a marvellously lively story about a horrible fight between two Kola Street clans over pigeons. We see the at times violent households in which masters beat their servants and petty quarrels turn into deadly street warfare.
Sholem Asch was Born in Poland in 1880, in 1914 he moved to New York City. A financially fortuitous marriage left him able to devote full time to writing. He was very prolific in numerous genres. Please see the link above for more details.
The run time of this podcast is 43 Minutes. It read by Ron Lieberman, introduced by Leonard Nimoy and was translated by Norman Gueterman.
I hope to post upon his famous novella, The Jewish Soldier this year.