Delving into The Zelmenyaners with Sasha Senderovich


The Zelmenayers is one of the great comic novels of the twentieth century, following a Soviet Jewish family through four generations as they deal with political change, new technologies, and the transformation of Jewish Life. Jewish scholar Sasha Senderovich, in a recent conversation with the Yiddish Book Center, explains, in depth, the cultural context of this classic of Yiddish literature recently translated into English by Hillel Halkin.

A highlight of the interview includes a discussion of the wordplay of author Moyshe Kulbak. Senderovich describes how Kulbak uses the Soviet regime’s idiomatic use of language, combined with intergenerational language shifts to imbue the novel with humor. A novel with such sensitive attention to language certainly provides an interesting translation challenge that Halkin has successfully risen to.

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