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Tuesday, December 18, 2018

On the Landing - Stories by Yenta Mash - translated from Yiddish by Ellen Cassedy - 2018




On the Landing - Stories by Yenta Mash - translated from Yiddish by Ellen Cassedy   - 2018

Yenta Mash

1922 - Born in Zquiriste, Moldavia

1941- Exhiled to a Siberian Gulag by Soviet Authorities, with her parents

1948 - after Seven years of hard labor under terrible conditions, she escape s and returns to Moldavia (there is a very exciting story about the escape in the collection)

1977- immigrates to Israel

1977 -  begins writing Short Stories in Yiddish based on her experiences

Having read a number of works by Blume Lempel on which Ellen Cassedy was cotranslator i was delighted to learn of her very recently published collection of stories by Yenta Mash.  (There is a link to one of her Short Stories, included in On The Landing in my previous post on Mash)

Much of Yiddish literature is about the immigration experiences of Russian and Eastern European.  Without emigration, Yiddish literature would have died in the Holocaust.  Even before then much of classic Yiddish deals with the impact of Czarist pograms.  Emigration also somehow liberated women from the dominant strctureres of family.  Upon arrival in New York City, women had to learn to cope with an entirely new way of life.  The wonderful short stories of Yente Mash taken together tell the story of a woman who makes two huge transitions, survives incredible hardship for years in a Soviet Labor Camp in Siberia (the set in Siberia stories are amazing), returning to her birth land in Moldavia she adjusted to post World War Two Society, only to move to Israel in her fifties.  There are great stories about immigrant life in Israel, getting adjusted to the rules of yet another society.

These are wonderful stories, a magnificent edition to Yiddish literature.

The collection opens with a story about a woman returning to her hometown after the war, trying to find anything or one she remembers.

From the webpage of Ellen Cassedy

Stories by Yenta Mash
Translated by Ellen Cassedy
With an afterword co-authored by Jessica Kirzane
Northern Illinois University Press, 2018

"A Yiddish Book Center Translation
Yenta Mash traces an arc across upheavals and regime changes, and across the phases of a woman’s life. Her characters are often in transit, poised “on the landing” on their way to or from somewhere else.
On the Landing opens by inviting us to join a woman making her way through her ruined hometown in southeastern Europe, recalling the colorful customs of yesteryear—and the night when everything changed. We then accompany women prisoners into the fearsome Soviet gulag in Siberia.  We see how the Jewish community rebuilds itself in postwar Soviet Moldova.  We join refugees struggling to find their place in Israel, where a late-life romance brings a blossoming of joy.

Drawing on a lifetime of repeated uprooting, Mash offers an intimate perch from which to explore little-known corners of the 20th and early 21st centuries. She makes a major contribution to the literature of immigration and resilience, adding her voice to those of Jhumpa Lahiri, W. G. Sebald, Andr√© Aciman, and Viet Thanh Nguyen. Available for the first time in English in Ellen Cassedy’s translation, her work is urgently relevant today as displaced people seek refuge across the globe."


Yenta Mash will, I hope become very widely read.  On the Landing is a great treasure.  I give my thanks to Ellen Cassedy

The afterword is very well done.  I read it before I began the stories and after I finished the collection.  

Mel u










1 comment:

  1. Where would we be without small academic publishers to revitalize scholarship about writers like these, in times like these, when these stories need reading.

    ReplyDelete

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