In October, the online literary journal Tupelo Quarterly published a review of Uncle Leyb, Sebastian Schulman’s English translation of an Esperanto short story by Mikaelo Bronŝtejn. In addition to the story, the journal has the following to say:
In the small, but vibrant world of Esperanto letters, there are few figures more beloved than Mikaelo Bronshtejn (b. 1949). Born in Ukraine and based in the Russian city of Tikhvin, Bronshtejn is a prolific novelist, poet, literary translator, and famed singer-songwriter who has written numerous books and recorded over a dozen albums of original songs in Esperanto and Russian. Bronshtejn first learned Esperanto — a language created in 1887 to ease international communication — in the early 1960s as was also an early leader and activist in the postwar revival of Esperanto in the Soviet Union. Bronshtejn was awarded the prestigious Antoni Grabowski Literary Prize by the Universal Esperanto Association in 2003.
Sebastian Schulman is a literary translator from Yiddish and Esperanto. His writing and translations have appeared in Words Without Borders, The Dirty Goat, Forward, and elsewhere. His first book-length translation, of Spomenka Stimec’s Esperanto novel Croatian War Nocturnal, was published with Phoneme Media in 2017. He teaches regular courses in Jewish and Russian history and culture and other topics at Smith College, Hampshire College, and at the Yiddish Book Center, where he also serves as the director of the translation fellowship program.
The Esperanto Society of New York’s celebration of Zamenhof’s birthday was featured in The New York Times on December 21st. Despite a small typo in the title (“Feliĉa Ferioj! Toasting the Holidays in Esperanto”), author Corey Kilgannon did an admirable job of profiling the club and its members, including mentions for Neil Blonstein, Miko Brandini, Max Howald, Robin Hill, Barbara Brown, Sofiya Soskina and Humphrey Tonkin. An excerpt:
[…] Renata Kaczmarska, 50, a Polish immigrant, said she learned Esperanto as a teen in Warsaw, and the first thing she did when she moved to New York in the 1990s was seek out the Esperanto Society to bond with speakers.
Through her Esperanto connections, she applied for a job at the United Nations, where she still works.
“She represents the Esperanto dream,” said James Woodstock, 48, an immigrant from Moscow, who can read more than 20 languages and who collects Esperanto currency.
Ms. Kaczmarska said that Zamenhof Day was a bonus in her holiday season, and a chance to honor Esperanto and her countryman who created it.
“It’s something to be proud of,” she said.
Back in September Freakonomics Radio published a set of podcasts addressing the idea of universal languages. The last podcast was devoted to Esperanto in particular, and included over 30 minutes of interviews with members including Esther Schor, Chris Johnson, Maria Murphy, Orlando Raola, and Humphrey Tonkin. The interviews with reporter Stephanie Tam were conducted at 2017’s Landa Kongreso in Raleigh.
The testimonials give listeners not only an overview of Esperanto’s history, but also an idea of the vibrant and trusting community it often creates among speakers. Member Lee Miller touches on this phenomenon in a personal anecdote, incidentally revealing himself as an easy mark for enterprising participants at next year’s Kongreso:
If I were in a group like this and I needed somebody to hold my wallet, with all my money in it, I would hand it to an Esperanto speaker in full confidence that whenever I came back, they would hand it back to me and my money would still be in it.