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The Yid: A Novel by Paul Goldberg

The Yid: A Novel

by Paul Goldberg

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805211,739 (3.72)3
  1. 00
    The World to Come by Dara Horn (lmtrott)
    lmtrott: Though partially set in America, it's another compelling story wonderfully steeped in Yiddish Russian culture.

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“THE YID GUARANTEES THAT YOU WILL NEVER THINK OF STALINIST RUSSIA, SHAKESPEARE, THEATER, YIDDISH, OR HISTORY THE SAME WAY AGAIN.” This is a novel of racism, genocide, secret police, and absurdity set in the 1953 Soviet Union with a backdrop of Shakespeare. There is a healthy dose of fascinating Soviet history with is revolutionaries, artists, and anti-Semitism along with a comedically theater of the absurd. In Stalin’s “Final Solution” plans to purge all Jews from Russia, government agents knock on the door of Solomon Levinson, a marginal actor from a closed Yiddish State Theater company, setting off a Kafkaesque path of no return. Levinson and his bizarre cast of friends and acquaintances devise a simple plan to kill the “mad King Stalin” before his final plans can be realized. “As hilarious as it is moving, as intellectual as it is violent, Paul Goldberg’s The Yid is a tragicomic masterpiece of historical fiction”
  HandelmanLibraryTINR | Nov 9, 2017 |
Promos for this compared it to Catch-22 and it was a little like that, but I also thought of The Golden Calf by Ilya Ilf and Evgeny Petrov (translated by Konstantin Gurevich and Helen Anderson). And the disposal of the bodies reminded me of the 1955 movie The Lady Killers. Whatever it reminds one of, it's a great book all by itself. Library book. ( )
  seeword | Aug 8, 2016 |
In 1953, in Stalin's Russia, a knock at the door in the middle of the night meant someone was going for a long ride to nowhere. Iosef Vissarionovich has planned his own final solution to the "Jewish problem" and is determined to succeed where Hitler failed. But a small group of mismatched comrades (small "c") decide they will not be taken, nor go without a fight when the Black Maria comes. They hatch a plot to take out Stalin himself, and from one outlandish improvised move to the next, they begin to make us believe they can do it. This is dark, sometimes brutal, satire, with overtones of the absurd. The presentation is very theatrical, and the characters allude often to Shakespeare, particularly to King Lear, as one of our protagonists is a former actor with mad skills in other areas. I think this novel is a masterpiece, and as with many such, it will take me more than one reading to fully appreciate it. ( )
  laytonwoman3rd | Jun 20, 2016 |
My thoughts:

A satirical mad-cap adventure tale makes excellent use of effectively blending history, family stories and ingenious imagination.
It is February 1953 and Stalin is about to unleash his biggest pogrom – the elimination of Jewish people from Russia, but as the reader will learn in the first pages the cast of eclectic characters have a plan to foil this plan.

I quickly became endeared to the characters as every time it looked like they were doomed – their imperturbable demeanor got them out of a dodgy situation.

The play-like format organizes the story (into three acts) and the script-like dialogue that provides the philosophical musing among the characters as they proceed to their fantastical task at hand.

While there are comedic incidents, there are many sobering truths that serve to illustrate the madness of the time and place.

Overall, this is a solid debut that entertains and educates and is a welcome addition to the historical fiction genre. ( )
  bookmuse56 | Apr 7, 2016 |
Overrated. ( )
  digitalmaven | Mar 31, 2016 |
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"Moscow, February 1953. A week before Stalin's death, his final pogrom, "one that would forever rid the Motherland of the vermin," is in full swing. Three government goons arrive in the middle of the night to arrest Solomon Shimonovich Levinson, an actor from the defunct State Jewish Theater. But Levinson, though an old man, is a veteran of past wars, and his shocking response to the intruders sets in motion a series of events both zany and deadly as he proceeds to assemble a ragtag group to help him enact a mad-brilliant plot: the assassination of a tyrant. Levinson's cast of unlikely heroes includes Aleksandr Kogan, a machine-gunner in Levinson's Red Army band who has since become one of Moscow's premier surgeons; Frederick Lewis, an African American who came to the USSR to build smelters and stayed to work as an engineer, learning Russian, Esperanto, and Yiddish; and Kima Petrova, an enigmatic young woman with a score to settle. While the setting is Soviet Russia, the backdrop is Shakespeare: A mad king has a diabolical plan to exterminate and deport his country's remaining Jews. And wandering through the narrative, like a crazy Soviet Ragtime, are such historical figures as Paul Robeson, Solomon Mikhoels, and Marc Chagall. As hilarious as it is moving, as intellectual as it is violent--with echoes of Inglourious Basterds and Seven Samurai--THE YID is a tragicomic masterpiece of historical fiction"--… (more)

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