Books: Nobel Prize for I.B. Singer

An inexhaustible fantasist of manias and superstitions

I don't know," Isaac Bashevis Singer I used to muse, "when I sit down to write I have a feeling that I'm talking maybe to millions or maybe to nobody." Last week he could be assured of at least 18 avid readers—the members of the Swedish Academy, which awarded the 74-year-old writer the 1978 Nobel Prize for Literature for his "impassioned narrative art which, with roots in a Polish Jewish cultural tradition, brings universal human conditions to life."

Signs of that life began in Poland, where the son and grandson of rabbis was afflicted by...

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