The Cross and Oth­er Jew­ish Stories

Lamed Shapiro; Leah Gar­rett, ed.
  • Review
By – November 14, 2011

The mas­ter­ful Yid­dish-Amer­i­can writer Lamed Shapiro (1878 – 1948) has for too long been over­looked. Now, with the pub­li­ca­tion of The Cross and Oth­er Jew­ish Sto­ries, he comes into his own. 

The book is divid­ed into three sec­tions. The first, Pogram Tales,” presents the bru­tal, sex­u­al­ized mob vio­lence of the pogroms in stun­ning detail, reflect­ing Shapiro’s own Ukran­ian child­hood experiences. 

The sev­en sto­ries of The Old World” are set in the shtetl. Not the charm­ing, folk­loric ham­let of pop­u­lar imag­i­na­tion, but a hope­less, debil­i­tat­ed rel­ic. In Eat­ing Days,” mis­ery ignites the vio­lence that flares between home and school. The Rebbe and the Reb­betsin” presents a bleak, lov­ing por­trait of a child­less hus­band and wife. 

The last seg­ment of the book, The New World,” begins with the lyri­cal At Sea.” On a trans-Atlantic voy­age to Amer­i­ca, a young immi­grant reflects on the per­ils of his jour­ney, the unfath­omable black sea, the haz­ards of assim­i­la­tion. The two final sto­ries, The Chair” and New York­ish,” are set in New York. The strug­gles of alien­at­ed refugees with the over­whelm­ing dis­lo­ca­tions of their lives come alive through Lamed Shapiro’s pow­er­ful blend of lyri­cism with pre­cise, artis­ti­cal­ly dis­ci­plined language.

Judith Felsen­feld book of short fic­tion, Blaustein’s Kiss, was pub­lished in April, 2014. Her sto­ries have appeared in numer­ous mag­a­zines and lit­er­ary reviews, includ­ing The Chica­go Review, The South­west Review, Blue Mesa, and broad­cast nation­wide on NPR’s Select­ed Shorts.

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