Penguin Book

Wandering Stars

Sholem Aleichem

In a small shtetl in Bessarabia in the early twentieth century, a traveling Yiddish acting company comes to town. The townspeople react in unison: "What is this? Actor-types? Comedians? Who needs them?" But for Reisel, daughter of a poor cantor, and Leibel, son of a rich man, the theatre is magic, and they immediately fall under its spell. Fleeing their small town, they run off together with the acting company but soon become separated from each other. Reisel goes on to become a star on the concert stage, and Leibel a sensation on the theatrical stage. They take new names - Reisel becoming Rosa Spivak, and Leibel becoming Leo Rafalesko - and repeatedly try to meet, but they are kept apart by their aspirations and successes, and by the interventions of a motley cast of impresarios, who exploit them for their own enrichment. They are wandering stars, shooting from stage to stage, from city to city, touring all the major European capitals and eventually reaching New York, a city of dreams shattered and fulfilled, of romance thwarted and consummated. It is the journey of a lifetime, a journey played out in every generation, and within every life, and Sholem Aleichem captures it with uncommon poignancy and richness, and with the humor, whimsy, and wistfulness that are his hallmarks.

SHOLOM ALEICHEM is the pen name of Sholem Rabinovitch (1859-1916), the most beloved writer in Yiddish literature and the creator of the famous Tevye character from the musical Fiddler on the Roof. His hundreds of short stories, plays, novels, poems, and feuilletons are still read, studied, produced, and translated all over the world. ALIZA SHEVRIN (translator) is the foremost translator of Sholem Aleichem, having translated eight other volumes of his fiction as well as novels and stories by Isaac Bashevis Singer and I. L. Peretz. She holds a bachelor's degree in agriculture from Cornell University and a master's degree in social work from the University of Kansas. The recipient of a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship to preserve Yiddish works by rendering them into English, she has also been a visiting scholar at the Rockefeller-Bellagio Study Center in Italy, where she translated Sholem Aleichem's novel In the Storm. TONY KUSHNER (foreword) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright. His plays include Angels in America, Homebody/Kabul, and Caroline or Change. He lives in New York.

Publication date
  • Fiction
Format TPS
198 x 129mm
Sholem Aleichem
Sholem Aleichem
Sholem Aleichem
Sholem Aleichem
Audio (Unabridged)
Sholem Aleichem
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