Isaac Bashevis Singer won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1978. He was the first Yiddish author to be honored with a Nobel Prize for Literature, and he is quite likely to be the last Yiddish author ever to be honored with a Nobel Prize for Literature. But let’s be honest: how many of the Nobel judges were fully capable of evaluating Singer’s command of Yiddish? The answer–at best–was very few.
The truth is that Isaac Bashevis Singer won the Nobel Prize for Literature because of the superlative translations of his work which appeared in English, often in the pages of the New Yorker Magazine. Stories in English made Isaac Bashevis Singer a widely-read and world-renown literary figure, and screen adaptations also increased his broad popularity (not to mention his bank account). By the time Isaac Bashevis Singer died in Miami in 1991 at the age of 88, he had become the very embodiment of a twinkly and much loved Jewish Uncle, not just for Kol Yisroel but for the world-at-large.