From the Jewish Provinces: Selected Stories (Paperback)

From the Jewish Provinces: Selected Stories By Fradl Shtok, Allison Schachter (Translated by), Jordan D. Finkin (Translated by) Cover Image
By Fradl Shtok, Allison Schachter (Translated by), Jordan D. Finkin (Translated by)
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Description


From the Jewish Provinces showcases a brilliant and nearly forgotten voice in Yiddish letters. An insistently original writer whose abrupt departure from the literary scene is the stuff of legend, Fradl Shtok composed stories that describe the travails of young women looking for love and desire in a world that spurns them. These women struggle with disability, sexual violence, and unwanted marriage, striving to imagine themselves as artists or losing themselves in fantasy worlds. The men around them grapple with their own frustrations and failures to live up to stifling social expectations. Through deft portraits of her characters’ inner worlds Shtok grants us access to unnoticed corners of the Jewish imagination.
 
Set alternately in the Austro‑Hungarian borderlands and in New York City, Shtok’s stories interpret the provincial worlds of the Galician shtetl and the Lower East Side with literary sophistication, experimenting with narrative techniques that make her stories expertly alive to women’s aesthetic experiences.

About the Author


FRADL SHTOK (1890–1990?) was born in Galicia, near the border between the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Russia. She emigrated to New York at around the age of seventeen, quickly making a name for herself as an up-and-coming poet, highly regarded and widely anthologized. She published a collection of short stories, written in Yiddish, in 1919, and a novel, written in English, in 1927. By the 1930s Shtok had dropped out of the literary scene, and little is known about her later life.
 
JORDAN D. FINKIN is the rare book librarian at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati. He is the author of Exile as Home: The Cosmopolitan Poetics of Leyb Naydus and An Inch or Two of Time: Time and Space in Jewish Modernisms.
 
ALLISON SCHACHTER is an associate professor of Jewish studies, English, and Russian and East European studies at Vanderbilt University. She is the author of Diasporic Modernisms: Hebrew and Yiddish Literature in the Twentieth Century.

Praise For…


“What makes From the Provinces so fantastically compelling are her European stories, set in Galicia (now western Ukraine) in the early 1900s . . . One of the pleasures of Shtok’s prose is how alive it is with the lush symbolism of a landscape shared by Jews and Ukrainians. This external world of botanical imagery is deployed masterfully by Shtok, who makes native plant life a leitmotif in portraying the inner lives of girls and women. Shtok’s landscapes feel all the more important, now, as the world’s attention is turned to that very same landscape . . . Right now, for those of us newly focused on Ukraine and its terrible humanitarian crisis, the stories of Fradl Shtok offer a moment to deepen our connection to that complicated landscape of memory, one in which flowers, and desires, once bloomed among neighbors.” —Rokhl Kafrissen, Tablet
 
“Set largely in the Galician provinces of the Austro-Hungarian empire, these folkloric and wonderfully unfussy stories conjure up old-country life without succumbing to nostalgia.” —Irene Katz Connelly, The Forward
 
“Shtok’s deft humor, her insights about human nature, and the determination and strength of her characters (particularly the female characters) make this collection a worthwhile read.” —Karen E. H. Skinazi, Jewish Journal

“Finkin and Schachter offer a long-overdue reevaluation of Shtok’s prose writing, analyzing the stories clearly while leaving much for readers to discern for themselves . . . a welcome addition to the (slowly) growing corpus of Yiddish women’s prose in English translation.” —Anita Norich, author of Writing in Tongues: Translating Yiddish in the Twentieth Century

“Each story leaves you wanting more — like any superb short story writer, Shtok conjures her characters vividly, making you feel as if they exist outside the bounds of the story while giving you a sliver into their lives. A long overdue introduction in English.” —Emily Burach, Alma

“Shtok writes everyday stories about everyday people with nuance, pathos, and humor.” —Helene Cohen Bludman, ReformJudaism.org

“To paraphrase a line from Fradl Shtok’s story ‘In the Village,’ a ‘joyous restlessness runs riot’ through these pages. Shtok’s stories are charged with longing; this longing is regularly cut with a playful wryness; this wryness, in turn, is interspersed with flickering instances of raw beauty and raw pain. Jordan D. Finkin and Allison Schachter’s translation is fluid and elegant, at times leaning into a colloquial relaxedness—‘That Persian-lamb cap sure made her bangs pop’—and at other junctures pulling toward the lyrical, as when one character’s semi-illicit consumption of a single viburnum berry (described brilliantly as ‘both good and not good’) is likened to ‘swallowing the clear frost, the cold sun on the snow.’ From the heart-stopping music of a flute played by a handsome stranger balanced on a tightrope, to the scene of village women eating fresh bread after swimming, smelling of water, talking, and feeling ‘bighearted toward the whole world,’ this collection is overflowing with moments, images, and lines that I will not soon forget. I loved reading it.” —Moriel Rothman-Zecher, author of Sadness Is a White Bird: A Novel

“In this important collection of the short fiction of Fradl Shtok, the English reader gains access for the first time to the hauntingly mundane modernist stories of a marginalized yet innovative Yiddish verbal artist. Jordan D. Finkin and Allison Schachter’s brilliant collaborative translation preserves the ironic cadences of the Yiddish that diffuse the pathos and endow these unresolved brief narratives with a rare vitality. Shtok’s supple and terse prose, beautifully rendered here by Finkin and Schachter, leads us into a kaleidoscope of points of view, from the collective stream of consciousness of the shtetl community, to the secret inner lives of Jewish characters in Eastern Europe and New York, mostly young women, whose unfulfilled erotic desires and cultural aspirations turn words into sites of longing.” —Chana Kronfeld, author of The Full Severity of Compassion: The Poetry of Yehuda Amichai


Product Details
ISBN: 9780810144392
ISBN-10: 0810144395
Publisher: Northwestern University Press
Publication Date: November 15th, 2021
Pages: 144
Language: English