On the Landing: Stories by Yenta Mash (Paperback)
A Yiddish Book Center Translation
In these sixteen stories, available in English for the first time, prize-winning author Yenta Mash traces an arc across continents, across upheavals and regime changes, and across the phases of a woman’s life. Mash’s protagonists are often in transit, poised “on the landing” on their way to or from somewhere else. In imaginative, poignant, and relentlessly honest prose, translated from the Yiddish by Ellen Cassedy, Mash documents the lost world of Jewish Bessarabia, the texture of daily life behind the Iron Curtain in Soviet Moldova, and the challenges of assimilation in Israel.
On the Landing opens by inviting us to join a woman making her way through her ruined hometown, recalling the colorful customs of yesteryear—and the night when everything changed. We then travel into the Soviet gulag, accompanying women prisoners into the fearsome forests of Siberia. In postwar Soviet Moldova, we see how the Jewish community rebuilds itself. On the move once more, we join refugees struggling to find their place in Israel. Finally, a late-life romance brings a blossoming of joy.
Drawing on a lifetime of repeated uprooting, Mash offers an intimate perch from which to explore little-known corners of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. A master chronicler of exile, she makes a major contribution to the literature of immigration and resilience, adding her voice to those of Jhumpa Lahiri, W. G. Sebald, André Aciman, and Viet Thanh Nguyen. Mash’s literary oeuvre is a brave achievement, and her work is urgently relevant today as displaced people seek refuge across the globe.
About the Author
Yenta Mash (1922–2013) was born and raised in Bessarabia in southeastern Europe. She survived Siberian exile, then settled in Chisinau, Moldova, before immigrating to Israel. Her prize-winning fiction draws on her life, spanning continents, regime changes, and historical eras.
Ellen Cassedy is the author of We Are Here: Memories of the Lithuanian Holocaust and co-translator of Oedipus in Brooklyn and Other Stories by Blume Lempel. She was a 2015 Yiddish Book Center Translation Fellow and this volume is a result of her fellowship.
“Ellen Cassedy’s translation of short stories by Yenta Mash gives voice to a near-forgotten writer and sheds light on a part of the Jewish people whose story and culture has been almost erased from the historical record. This is a finely written and skillfully translated collection.”
—Sebastian Schulman, executive director, KlezKanad
“A moving collection of stories by an inspiring survivor who brings humanity to underrepresented history."
—Ruta Sepetys, author of Between Shades of Gray
“Yenta Mash has left us rich images and complex responses to human betrayal and God's indifference in stories that are compelling and memorable.”
—Irena Klepfisz, author of A Few Words in the Mother Tongue
“Mournful and animate, Yenta Mash’s stories ingather Romanian shtetl lives before, during, and after Soviet disruptions. Each story is a microcosm of the Jewish diaspora….Vibrant in their respect for Soviet Jewry, Yenta Mash’s stories are a must.” —Foreword Reviews
“Each story is a gem….Mash’s narrative skill is quietly astonishing.” — Jewish Book Council
“These stories will change the way you see life.” — Reviews by Amos Lassen