9780312169800 / 0312169809

Requiem for Harlem: Mercy of a Rude Stream, Vol. 4


Publisher:St. Martin's Press



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About the book:

It's a shame that Henry Roth died in 1995, because now readers will never know what happens to his fictional alter ego, Ira Stigman, once he leaves City College. For readers familiar with Roth's series of autobiographical novels, Requiem for Harlem is the last of four books chronicling the childhood and young adulthood of Stigman; for those who have not yet discovered Roth, consider reading the first three in the series to get a handle on the dark, complicated, and rich world Ira Stigman occupies. Set in 1920s Harlem, Roth's novels explore the life of Jewish immigrants. In earlier volumes, the reader meets Ira, his sister Minnie, his cousin Stella, and his parents. Home life for the Stigmans is hardly heartwarming: the parents are locked in a violent marriage, and the children are involved in incestuous relationships. By the time Roth and Stigman have reached the events chronicled in Requiem for Harlem, Ira and Minnie are no longer sleeping together, but Ira and Stella are.

Requiem for Harlem follows Ira through his college years and his attempts to separate from his family, his neighborhood, and his own past. His childish passions for Minnie and Stella give way to his attraction to an older woman, Professor Edith Welles--an attraction that is as complex in its own way as his earlier relationships with his sister and cousin. It's unfortunate that there will be no further volumes taking us through the rest of Ira's life, but for those who wonder what happened to him, there is the example of Henry Roth to guide us.

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