Please be offended–be offended by the title, be offended by the behaviour of the characters, by the way the author plays with history, with the literary history of Russia and Yiddish culture, but be really offended by the way Stalin treated so many of the citizens of the Soviet Union. If you are the ending will satisfy you, and bring a fantstical catharsis to the way you think about Uncle Joe the next time you think about him.
This is a funny book. Funny in a Coen brothers way–as people are murdered/righteously killed by these actors and clowns. It’s a violent book.
It’s a riotous joy to read.
From the author’s website:
“MOSCOW, FEBRUARY 1953. A week before Stalin’s death, his final pogrom 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, now 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.”
New York Times
“Soon there is a core group determined to stop the deportation and pogrom that could become Stalin’s last gift to Russian Jews…The Yid is about Stalin’s worst enemy as well as his favorite prey. Mr. Goldberg fuses these characters and all that they suggest to Stalin—Paul Robeson for Lewis, Anna Akhmatova for one of the book’s women—into one hellish vision to haunt that dictator during his last hours on earth. So he gets one last gift, too.”
Maureen Corrigan at NPR
“‘The Yid’ doesn’t play nice. In fact, it plays fast and loose with history as well as with conventional approaches to writing about anti-Semitism and genocide.