Abraham Cahan's first English novel, Yekl: A Tale of the New York Ghetto, is a multilingual narrative whose literary strategies bear the marks of both Yiddish language and literature and American local color writing at the end of the nineteenth century. This article examines two aspects of“plain speaking” in Cahan's writing; the intersection of these two different cultural and literary traditions in relation to prevailing notions of realism exemplified by the role of William Dean Howells in the creation ofYekl and the poetics of ethnic writing exemplified by the use of dialect, translation strategies, multilingual word play, and other techniques.

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