Moyshe Kulbak: The Zelmenyaners: A Family Saga
Stories of a bustling courtyard populated by hapless sages and wise young fools fill Moyshe Kulbak’s classic satirical novel of Soviet Minsk. It’s a compelling, tender read, newly translated by Hillel Halkin with a rich introduction by Jewniverse’s own Sasha Senderovich.
The premise is familiar from other beloved Yiddish works—think Sholem Aleichem’s Tevye the Dairyman from a generation before. Yet The Zelmenyaners spoke to an unprecedented experience as it unfolded in real time. Serialized between 1929 and 1935, as Stalin was solidifying his power, the novel traces the evolution of the religious Jew into the secular comrade, and small town Belorussia into the aggressively modernizing Soviet Union.