Synopses & Reviews
Nineteen to the Dozen is some of the most innovative writing by a master Yiddish writer; much has never before been translated into English. The author of twenty-eight Yiddish novels and other works, Sholem Aleichem is best known for having inspired Fiddler on the Roof. His artistic vision was rooted both in the shtetl and in the city of Kiev, where he produced stories at a high literary level.
This book epitomizes his ability to evoke the voices of Yiddish speakers. In each of these monologues written between 1901 and 1916, a man or woman comes forward to tell the story. The implied listeners -- a rabbi, a doctor, or the author himself -- say virtually nothing. Aleichem pretends to have has transcribed these private performances for the reader's benefit.
Five women and seven men tell their own tales. They are rich and poor, educated and ignorant. These narratives provide a unique portrayal of Eastern European Jewish society, and they go a long way toward demystifying the shtetl, which has too often been the object of undue nostalgia.