My Mothers Sabbath Days

Chaim Grade, Author, Ashbel Green, Editor, Inna H. Grade, Translator Alfred A. Knopf $19.95 (397p) ISBN 978-0-394-50980-8
A luminous crown of the Grade oeuvre, this posthumous translation (the book was published in Yiddish 30 years ago) is a fitting kaddish to the Yiddish writer and the annihilated society of preWW II European Jewry. The first half is peppered with sharp but loving portraits of the Lithuanian Jews who inspired Grade's fictionepitomized by his mother, Vella, a pious, superstitious, humble yet self-righteous fruit peddler. As an omniscient narrator, the author offers chapters suggestive of his collected stories Rabbis and Wives, replete with midrashic saws and evocative images of a quaint, insular Vilna (""The moss-covered, hunchbacked roofs resemble the bent shoulders of bearded Jews jostling forward, the better to hear the words of a wandering preacher''). The memoir loses momentum as war intrudes and the author flees the Nazis. But it assumes a harrowing intensity as a guilt-ridden Grade, burdened by memories of his dead wife and mother, returns postwar to a gutted ghetto. (November 24)
Reviewed on: 10/28/1986
Release date: 11/01/1986
Paperback - 397 pages - 978-0-8052-0839-9
Paperback - 416 pages - 978-1-56821-962-2
Open Ebook - 400 pages - 978-1-4616-2966-5
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