How the Soviet Jew Was Made


Product Details

Harvard University Press
Publish Date
6.1 X 9.4 X 1.3 inches | 1.45 pounds

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About the Author

Sasha Senderovich is Assistant Professor in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures and the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington, Seattle, where he is also an affiliate of the Stroum Center for Jewish Studies. With Harriet Murav, he translated the Yiddish writer David Bergelson's novel Judgment. Senderovich has written on contemporary fiction by Russian Jewish émigré authors in the United States including Gary Shteyngart, Anya Ulinich, David Bezmozgis, and Irina Reyn.


The Russian Revolution of 1917 transformed the Jewish community of the former empire. Soviet modernity meant freedom, the possibility of the new, and the pressure to discard old ways of life, all embodied in the novel cultural figure of the Soviet Jew. In insightful readings of Yiddish and Russian literature, films, and reportage, Senderovich urges us to see the Soviet Jew as a particular kind of liminal being as he offers a profound meditation on culture and identity in a shifting landscape.--Alice Nakhimovsky, author of Dear Mendl, Dear Reyzl: Yiddish Letter Manuals from Russia and America
With incisive exegesis, Senderovich develops a new reading of Soviet Jewish identity formation and expands the canon of twentieth-century Jewish writings in the process. This book establishes Senderovich as an important and original voice in Jewish literary studies.--Jeffrey Veidlinger, author of In the Midst of Civilized Europe: The Pogroms of 1918-1921 and the Onset of the Holocaust
An erudite exploration of how Russian and Yiddish writers imagined a totally new kind of person, the Soviet Jew. Senderovich shows how war, revolution, and the first years of Soviet power made it possible to construct a Jewish figure and assign it competing ideological meanings. In that way, the Jews were like the Soviet Union itself. Disciplinarily wide-ranging and original, this book will excite readers.--Gabriella Safran, author of Wandering Soul: The Dybbuk's Creator, S. An-sky
In this compelling book, Senderovich describes the new Jewish narratives that were born with the Soviet Union. Caught between the excitement of revolutionary messianism and the tragedy of mass violence, Soviet Jewish writers in both Yiddish and Russian created new Jewish archetypes that built on humor, folklore, and music and engaged with debates in Marxist philosophy. Two Jewish literary languages, in dialogue with one another, came to define a new Jewish culture with its own touchstones and ciphers.--Amelia M. Glaser, author of Songs in Dark Times: Yiddish Poetry of Struggle from Scottsboro to Palestine
Senderovich follows the Russian Jews as they navigated across space and time on their journey to becoming Soviet. In richly erudite readings of the most significant interwar works of Soviet Jewish literature, journalism, and cinema in Yiddish and Russian, he explores the convoluted creation process of a new Soviet Jewish identity and makes a strong case for a more nuanced and better informed understanding of the fluid relationship between the two components of this ambivalent hybrid formation.--Mikhail Krutikov, author of Der Nister's Soviet Years: Yiddish Writer as Witness to the People
Maps a fascinating landscape of Jewish literary expression in Eastern European Jewish life during the period between the Russian Revolution and the emergence, over the next few decades, of the Soviet Union...Senderovich's study is indispensable for understanding this rich segment of Jewish creativity. The book charts how a generation of Jewish writers and filmmakers explored, and sought to demystify, the meaning of 'becoming Soviet' in response to an emergent Soviet empire demanding ideological consensus among its newly emancipated, deterritorialized Jewish citizens.--Donald Weber "Jewish Book Council" (8/15/2022 12:00:00 AM)
Those willing to put in the effort will get a lot out of How the Soviet Jew Was Made.--Gary Saul Morson "Mosaic" (9/12/2022 12:00:00 AM)