Allison Schachter writes review of translated Yiddish book “On the Landing”
Allison Schachter wrote a review for On the Landing: Stories by Yenta Mash, translated by Ellen Cassedy, for In Geveb, a journal of Yiddish studies.
Yiddish literary history is an unfinished project, still in many ways in its infancy. In North America, what we know about Yiddish literature—what gets taught, published, and written about—has been shaped by the 1950s translation projects of American Jewish male writers, like Irving Howe and Eliezer Greenberg. They didn’t invent the narrative of Yiddish as a literature written by men, but they codified that legacy dreamed up by Sholem Aleichem, when he declared Mendele to be “the grandfather” of Yiddish literature. One hundred years later it is time to rethink this nascent literary history cut short by the annihilation of its reading public in World War II, by the rise of Hebrew, and by the domination of English as a Jewish reading language. What we know about Yiddish literature, particularly prose fiction, from the scholarship in English and from English translation is only a portion of Yiddish literary output, one that reaches back before Mendele and beyond Isaac Bashevis Singer and his pivot to English.