- Hardcover: 384 pages
- Publisher: Free Press (September 9, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1416538704
- ISBN-13: 978-1416538707
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 55 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,361,003 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $5.50 shipping
+ $26.99 shipping
Songs for the Butcher's Daughter: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, September 9, 2008
|New from||Used from|
Frequently bought together
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
From Publishers Weekly
Known for Vows, his memoir of growing up the son of a former priest and nun, Manseau uses an alter ego to tell the story of fictional Yiddish poet Itsik Malpesh, born in the Moldovan city of Kishinev in 1903. Itsik's story is told through his Yiddish memoirs, which he helps a young American Catholic (working, like Manseau once did, as a Yiddish archivist) translate. Inspired by the image of Sasha, the brave butcher's daughter who was present at his birth, Itsik reaches America in young adulthood through haphazard luck, a taste for troublemaking and the inventiveness of a printer. Sasha continually inspires and confounds Itsik throughout his life, becoming an apt symbol for Yiddish humor, sorrow and idealism. As Itsik's darkly picaresque immigrant narrative unfolds, it competes with the translator's modern romance and with insights into the art of translation and the history of Yiddish. Occasional narrative missteps are not enough to undercut this rich, often ironic homage to Yiddish culture and language. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* Fleeing violent anti-Semitism in Russia and then in Poland in the 1920s, Yiddish poet Itzik Malpesh stepped off the boat in New York at age 16 in the Golden Land, “alone, with nowhere to go and no way to get there.” Now, in his 90s and living in Baltimore, he employs a 21-year-old religious scholar to translate his memoirs into English. Far from your usual immigrant journey to the promised land, the intricate narrative weaves together Malpesh’s account of his “life and crimes,” including his job scrubbing floors, with the translator’s discoveries of the poet’s secret life, then and now. Always on Malpesh’s journeys what sustains him is the story of his birth during a pogrom, when Sasha, the ritual butcher’s daughter, just four years old, chased away the killers and saved the baby. Ever since being told of the girl's courageous feat, his romantic obsession has been to find Sasha––until she arrives in America in the 1930s, a tough, beautiful, Hebrew-speaking Israeli, who despises Yiddish and the old ways and tells him what really happened. Rooted in the sharp, bittersweet Yiddish tradition reminiscent of Isaac Bashevis Singer, Manseau’s thrilling tale of secrets and revelations captures the diversity among Jews, then and now, in shtetl, city, and kibbutz, and the elemental meaning of bashert, or destiny. Like the translator in the story, the writer Manseau is not Jewish. --Hazel Rochman
Read the first chapter from Songs for the Butcher's Daughter, Peter Manseau’s novel of a Yiddish poet in the Moldovan city of Kishinev. [pdf]
Try the Kindle edition and experience these great reading features:
Read reviews that mention
Showing 1-8 of 55 reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Through these two voices the story emerges, one of the experience of being a Jew in an anti-Semitic world, where young boys are kidnapped for the Tzar's army, where people labor at menial and backbreaking jobs for a pittance and where there is never a feeling of safety. The other voice is that of a modern young man working in an agency that restores books printed in Yiddish. He has learned Yiddish even though he is not Jewish and is romantically involved with a young Jewish woman who doesn't know his true background.
From these two voices, Itsik's story is told, how he searches for the butcher's daughter, Sasha, who, at age four was present at his birth. She is his obsession but when they finally meet up he discovers that her story is different from his. No matter though, he loves her. But by then they are both immigrants in New York, experiencing a world that has its own kind of harshness. The book spans a century and it all turns out well, but not without the characters experiencing some rather horrible events that were described so outrageously that I had to laugh out loud.
This is a fun book to read, but it is also a learning experience about the Yiddish language and a culture that has come and gone.
The book's protagonist, Itsak, is born in a small Ukranian city during a pogrom. He flees to Odessa because of both persecution and the draft. From Odessa he emigrates to the lower east side of New York. At last he finds a home in Baltimore where he meets a Christian translater of Yiddish. This book contains everything neccessary to make a fine novel. The story is compelling. The language is fluid, rich and unpretentious. The tale is about one of my favorite subjects, the persecution of Jews and their subsequent migration to the U.S.
This non-Jewish author has captured the Yiddish cadences which flavor a successful work of Jewish fiction. He has obviously researched his subject and his subject's native language well. He is coming to address a group of readers in my city, and I expect to be in the audience. For a first effort this novel is truly amazing. I look forward to more from this talented writer. This book is a quick read and a page turner.