We just heard the sad news that Barry Hoberman, longtime bookseller at Wellesley Books, passed away suddenly on Friday, April 23rd. He would have turned 70 next month.
Wellesley Books announced Barry’s passing in their newsletter saying, “Beloved by staff and customers alike, Barry held court at our front register for over twenty years—he was proud of having been hired on the very first day the bookstore opened on Central Street in 1999. Considered by many the unofficial mayor of Wellesley, he took a genuine interest in those around him, warmly greeting customers (and their dogs) by name and recalling every detail of previous conversations. Barry was a gifted writer and a formidable scholar, possessing a deep knowledge of history, religion, baseball and music. He always relished the challenge of helping a customer track down some esoteric and often out-of-print treatise on one of his favorite subjects. We will miss his sense of humor, his affectionate banter, his freely-expressed opinions, his extraordinary intellect and his kind heart.”
Barry published a scholarly book, The Early Jews in China; the Origin of the Jewish Community of K’aifeng; articles on Middle Eastern and Central Asian history including one for Harvard Magazine on the origins of Good King Wenceslas of the Christmas carol fame; and poetry for Spitball, the Literary Baseball Magazine, and other publications.
He also was a huge baseball fan. As a kid growing up in Brooklyn he cheered for the Brooklyn Dodgers, and caught fireflies on summer evenings. To find out more about Barry the writer, the thinker, the intellectual, read his essay that appears in The Rumpus (the online publication’s tagline—”nothing says adulthood like a well-stocked refrigerator). In it, he reflects on how, “I’ve lived through more than one quarter of our country’s history.”
If you want to know who Barry was, read every word of that extraordinary, impeccably researched, and imminently readable piece. In it he covers religion, civil rights, feminism, sports, and world events in a tone that juxtaposes the serious with the frivolous. His well-reasoned and backed-up argument that he was not—repeat, not—older than rock ‘n roll is priceless.
Our deepest condolences to Barry’s family, friends, co-workers, and customers.
Donate in Barry’s name
Book Industry Charitable Foundation provides financial support to booksellers in need. Your donation in Barry’s name will go to bookstore and comic shop owners and employees with unforeseen emergency financial needs.
No word yet on services, but we will update this post as information becomes available.