NOTIS's Northwest Literary Translators and Folio: The Seattle Athenaeum have teamed up to organize a series of lectures by local literary translators about their published books. Tonight's speaker is Seattle translator Sasha Senderovich, discussing his translation from Yiddish of David Bergelson's novel Judgment. All are welcome! NOTIS members: register using the Member option for discounted admission.
Sahsa Senderovich is an assistant professor of Russian, Jewish, and international studies at the University of Washington in Seattle. He has published on Soviet Jewish culture and literature, as well as on contemporary fiction by émigré Russian Jewish writers in America. He is a translator, together with Harriet Murav, of David Bergelson's Yiddish-language novel Judgment.
Never before available in English, Judgment is a work of startling power by David Bergelson (1884-1952), the most celebrated Yiddish prose writer of his era and a literary modernist.
Set in 1920 during the Russian Civil War, Judgment (titled Mides-hadin in Yiddish) traces the death of the shtetl and the birth of the “new, harsher world” created by the 1917 Russian Revolution. As Bolshevik power expanded toward the border between Poland and Ukraine, Jews and non-Jews smuggled people, goods, and anti-Bolshevik literature back and forth. In the novel’s fictional town of Golikhovke, the Bolsheviks have established their local outpost in a former monastery, where the non-Jewish Filipov acts as the arbiter of "judgment" and metes out punishments and executions to the prisoners held there: Yuzi Spivak, arrested for anti-Bolshevik activities; Aaron Lemberger, a pious and wealthy Jew; a seductive woman referred to as "the blonde" who believes she can appease Filipov with sex; and a memorable cast of toughs, smugglers, and criminals. Ordinary people, depicted in a grotesque, aphoristic style—comparable to Isaac Babel’s Red Cavalry—confront the overwhelming, mysterious forces of history, whose ultimate outcome remains unknown.
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