How did Hungry Hearts by Anzia Yezierska affect American Jewry? Did her book affect the immigrant experience? What did people think when it was published?

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bmadnick eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hungry Hearts, published in 1920, was her first collection of short stories to be published. It received wide critical acclaim. Anzia was offered $10,000.00 by MGM for the film rights to the stories and a job with MGM to assist in writing the screenplay.

Immigration was steadily increasing during this time, and WASP Americans were suspicious of the strangers moving to America. Many were xenophobic (fear of foreigners). Anzia's stories reassured many of these Americans because her stories reached inside the hearts and minds of the people of the ghetto and showed white Americans these immigrants only wanted to be accepted and be a productive part of
American life.

This had to have a positive effect on both American Jews and immigrants of all ethnicities because white Americans saw them as real people with the same hopes and dreams of every person. Perhaps some of them faced less hostility and prejudice due to her writing.

There has been a resurgence of Anzia's literature, and she is more popular and more widely read today than when she was alive. She is viewed today as the mother of American Jewish literature.

Further Reading:
Read the study guide:
America and I

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