AROUND THE TABLE: Family Stories of Sholom Aleichem by Sholom Aleichem

AROUND THE TABLE: Family Stories of Sholom Aleichem

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Translated from Yiddish, five wonderful stories by a well-loved author (1859-1916) who spent his last ten years in the US. The setting is the Russian village that Aleichem knew as a boy, where poverty is a familiar presence even in the comfortable households depicted here. Four of the stories concern holidays--a Purim dinner at a rich uncle's home, when the young narrator disgraces himself with uncontrollable laughter at the absurd singing of a ridiculous cousin; two brothers canvassing a fascinating assortment of relatives for Chanukah money; an odd but plausibly scholarly Pesach guest absconding with the family valuables; and, moat touching, a grandfather recounting, with rueful generosity, the homecomings of his many improvident children. A last story describes a father's urgent, increasingly comical efforts to repair the family clock--which finally falls from the wall and smashes because he has added such a ludicrous array of weights. Each story offers several memorable portraits, satirical yet affectionate, as well as a rich taste of a village life that was permeated with religious observances. Shevrin's translation is lively and colorful, effectively conveying Aleichem's pungent humor and darker undercurrent; she also includes an excellent introduction on the author and on the art and demands of translation. To read aloud! Illustrations not seen.

Pub Date: Oct. 30th, 1991
Page count: 96pp
Publisher: Scribners