An extraordinary popular success when it was first published in 1912, The Promised Land is a classic account of the Jewish American immigrant experience. Mary Antin emigrated with her family from the
Eastern European town of Polotzk to Boston in 1894, when she was twelve years old. Preternaturally inquisitive, Antin was a provocative observer of the identity-altering contrasts between Old World and
New. Her narrative — of universal appeal and rich in its depictions of both worlds — captures a large-scale sociocultural landscape and paints a profound self-portrait of an iconoclast seeking to reconcile her
heritage with her newfound identity as an American citizen.
Jules Chametzky is Professor of English, Emeritus, at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He is an editor and founder of The Massachusetts Review and author of "From the Ghetto: the Fiction of Abraham Cahan and Our Decentralized Literature." He recently edited "The Rise of David Levinsky" and was co-editor of "Jewish American Literature: a Norton Anthology." He lives in Amherst, Massachusetts.
Mary Antin was born in June of 1881 in Polotzk, White Russia (what is now Belarus). She emigrated from Polotzk to Boston with her family in 1894, when she was thirteen. Her first book, describing her voyage from Russia to the United States, was published in 1899. "The Promised Land" was a bestseller when it was first published in 1912.