How the Soviet Jew Was Made

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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 Associate 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.
Wonderful...Tells the story of the development of the unique cultural type of the Soviet Jew during the first two decades of the Soviet Union's existence.--Brett Winestock "Studies in American Jewish Literature" (11/11/2023 12:00:00 AM)
Powerlessness, insecurity, and trauma suspended the Soviet-Jewish figure in a hesitant middle ground. Senderovich's achievement is in deftly illustrating the tensions of this moment, when speculating on the outcome of the revolution for eastern European Jewry could provoke both great hope and visceral dread in a single text.--James Benjamin Nadel "The Pickle (Vashti Media Ltd.)" (5/9/2023 12:00:00 AM)
Presents urgent perspectives for any post-Soviet Jewish American who has ever entertained the question: What made my parents the way they are? What accounts for their dark view of the world, their elevated sense of humor and irony, and, perhaps most poignantly for this particular group, their unquenchable anxiety?--Gary Shteyngart "New York Review of Books" (2/9/2023 12:00:00 AM)
Senderovich doesn't reheat old material. He provides fresh insight, as well as material few have seen.--Paul Goldberg "Jerusalem Post" (5/25/2023 12:00:00 AM)
Through its intensive engagement with works of post-revolutionary Jewish literature, Senderovich's monograph offers a new reading of Jewish-Soviet literature of the interwar period that enriches the debate about Jewish creativity and identity in the young Soviet Union...An innovative examination of the complex processes that shaped this identity.--Leonie Rogg "H-Soz-Kult" (6/7/2023 12:00:00 AM)
How the Soviet Jew Was Made makes an eloquent case for Yiddish-language works being part of Russian/Soviet literature...A deeply researched work, with insightful, often brilliant analyses.--Yelena Furman "Los Angeles Review of Books" (1/15/2023 12:00:00 AM)
An extraordinary overview of the serious scholarly writing on the multiple dimensions of Jewish life in the Russian/Soviet space.-- "Association of Jewish Libraries News and Reviews" (1/1/2023 12:00:00 AM)
[How the Soviet Jew Was Made] is a story of enormous creativity in both Russian and Yiddish, which revealed the tensions inherent in being a 'Soviet Jew'. This victimized figure may have needed 'saving' by the West during the Cold War in the form of safe passage out of the USSR, but Senderovich's meticulous study is less interested in how the Soviet Jew was viewed from outside the USSR than in the struggle that his chosen writers and film-makers underwent in the attempt to make sense of their post-revolutionary selves.--Bryan Cheyette "Times Literary Supplement" (3/3/2023 12:00:00 AM)
A deeply researched book that explores literary and cinematic representations of Jews in the USSR between 1917 and the 1930s...[Senderovich's] comparative approach offers a wider view of the Soviet cultural landscape, where Russian and Yiddish richly interacted with each other. By extension, Senderovich's book is also an invitation to further expand the scope of Yiddish studies through multilingual approaches.--Nobuto Sato "In Geveb" (2/27/2023 12:00:00 AM)
Senderovich focuses on the texts of several Jewish writers of the early Soviet period that depict the experience of Jews from shtetls who found themselves under Bolshevik rule. His subtle literary analysis takes in novels, short stories, and films.--Maria Lipman "Foreign Affairs" (2/28/2023 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)
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)