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Regrowth: Seven Tales of Jewish Life Before, During, and After Nazi Occupation (Northwestern World Classics) Paperback – May 5, 2011

4.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Der Nister (1884–1950) was the penname of Pinchas Kahanovich, a Yiddish poet and novelist. His best-known work is The Family Mashber

Erik Butler is Assistant Professor of German Studies at Emory University.
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Product Details

  • Series: Northwestern World Classics
  • Paperback: 308 pages
  • Publisher: Northwestern University Press; First printing of this trade paperback edition. edition (May 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810127369
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810127364
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.9 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,491,616 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"Regrowth" is a collection like none other. These short stories were written by a Soviet Jew as the Nazis started their campaign of isolation, humiliation, and murder. They describe the inner lives of seven characters ensnared in this moment.

Der Nister (the author's pen name, which means "The Hidden One") was already an accomplished writer when he began writing these stories. His literary skill is astonishing. Here, his talents are turned toward a writing task neither he as a young writer nor anyone else could have foreseen.

What's shattering about these stories is the angle from which they view the German encroachment. Der Nister (who later died in a Soviet camp under Stalin) probably never knew the full extent of the Holocaust. He only wrote about what he knew, when he knew it, and he did so with extraordinary skill. His style is poetic yet pellucid, deeply moving but unsentimental. His images are indelible, akin to the razor-sharp precision of Samuel Beckett. His intelligence is felt on every page.

In Der Nister's stories, underneath all the external events--the things most writers would have focused on--pulses the true blood of the story: a vein of perception, confusion,and compassion difficult to describe. There is horror and hatred, sympathy and despair, but also a stubbornness that gives each story a sharpness some readers might find shocking. This is no retrospective story of bad guys and victims. It's a first-hand investigation by a brilliant and talented author of the mental and psychological contortions caused by an event so enormous, so unprecedented, that no one--not even the author--could imagine its ultimate scope.

The translator should be given an award for bringing these stories to light, and for translating them into English for the first time.
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I can't speak about Der Nister with any degree of coherence. He was in my opinion the greatest Jewish writer in the last 2,000 years. I say this without exaggeration and being absolutely lucid about what this statement entails. His book "The Family Mashber" AKA "Di Moshpoche Mashber" is the crowning monument to the heroic and tragic genius.

This is a different book, I feel parts are very personal because Der Nster lost his only daughter in the blockade of Leningrad. There is a passage there about the burial of the son in one of the stories. I read till that page and it shuttered me to the core, I could not opnen the book again, at least not until now.

The imagination of this writer is an overwhelming gift.
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Der Nister's stories are written with such an original voice that, even without their historical importance, they'd be required reading for short fiction lovers. But it's the content that makes these invaluable -- these were written about Jewish life in Poland, and from a vantage point unavailable through other writers. Some of these tales will haunt you forever.
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Format: Paperback
The stories in 'Regrowth' are a true revelation! I concur with the previous comments as to the merits of this fascinating collection of stories that weave the Holocaust into the longer narratives. The voice is distinctive; the story telling magisterial. I especially recommend the generous afterword by the translator (and editor) Erik Butler for its acumen, deft literary analysis, and general discussion of 'der Nister' and his unique gifts. This collection should take its place among the classics of Yiddish literature and in literature of the Holocaust.
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I chose this rating only because the edges of the book were clearly damaged--bent back. The pages were clean and the binding solid. On teh whole I rate this transaction as "good."
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