The Yiddish Writer and the Siberian Exile

Born Pinkhes Kahanovitsch in 1884 Ukraine, Der Nister—the nom de plume meaning “The Hidden One”—was a widely underappreciated Yiddish writer of staggering talent and ingenuity. Der Nister’s early surrealistic stories were infused with Kabbalah and inspired by the mystical tales of Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav. He also wrote Yiddish children’s books, publishing The Story of the Rooster and The Little Goat in 1917, which was illustrated by compatriot Marc Chagall….

If you’ve been scratching your head wondering why “Der Nister” sounds familiar, chances are you’ve read Dara Horn’s The World to Come, in which a fictionalized version of the writer comes to life.

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