In the topsy-turvy years between the dawn of the twentieth century and the dark days of 1939, the Moskat family battled on. In Warsaw, where saints mingle with swindlers, tough Zionists argue with mystic philosophers, and medieval rabbis rub shoulders with ultra-modern painters, life is inexorably changing.
Isaac Bashevis Singer was born in 1904, in Poland, the son of a rabbi. Fleeing fascism in 1935, he emigrated to America, penniless and knowing little English. 'I think that the whole of human history is one big Holocaust,' he said in 1987, when asked why there was no direct mention of the Holocaust in his fiction. 'It is not only Jewish history. We can call human history the history of the human Holocaust'. Singer's fiction - novels such as The Family Moskat (1950) and The Magician of Lublin (1960), and story collections such as Gimpel the Fool (1957) and The Spinoza of Market Street (1961) - became admired internationally and he was awarded the Nobel prize in 1978. He died in 1998.