"Transformative, moving, and impossible to read without tears of reverence."—The Main Street Rag
"Read Red Shoes for Rachel and you will discover a superb storyteller and a modern master of prose..."—The Canadian Jewish News
"Boris Sandler is the best-known name among the few active Yiddish prose writers and poets of our days. Sandler’s prose reflects his experience of living in Soviet Moldova, Moscow, Jerusalem, and New York. The book is excellently translated by Barnett Zumoff, who is a recognized master of translations from Yiddish into English. The selection of the novellas is very good—I believe the book will find a significant number of readers and will certainly use it in my classes on Yiddish literature in translation."—Gennady Estraikh, Clinical Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies, New York University
"Boris Sandler is the leading Yiddish prose writer of our time. I am truly happy that a book of his wonderful novellas has been published in an English translation, and I sincerely hope that it will arouse in its readers the interest to explore more treasures of the rich and remarkable Yiddish culture."—Evgeny Kissin, Grammy Award Winning Classical Pianist
"Fascinating characters with appealing and universal experiences. Sandler’s storytelling and Zumoff’s translation are a literary treasure."—Eitan Kensky, Director of Collection Initiatives for the Yiddish Book Center
"Barnet Zumoff’s translation is splendid, natural, and effortless. It meets the gold standard of translation. Reading this book, you forget that the stories in it were not written in English. Read “Red Shoes for Rachel” and you will discover a superb storyteller, a modern master of prose."—The Jewish Standard
"Red Shoes for Rachel brings together three unconnected short stories about the Jewish experience in
the post war era, in the United States and Israel. Each of the main characters is either a descendent of
Holocaust survivors or a survivor themselves. . . . A richly written collection."—AJL Reviews
"The three novellas all feature characters who struggle with loss and longing, past and present, memory and its consequences. . . . Red Shoes for Rachel proves that Yiddish isn’t a dead language after all, but one that still teems with mystery and life."—Jewish Book Council
Red Shoes for Rachel, Sandler’s award-winning collection of three novellas, features tightly wound tales that seamlessly incorporate diverse genres, including magic realism, satire, and autobiography, and profound psychological profiles to create touching portrayals of the human experience. Zumoff’s translation of Sandler’s original Yiddish collection makes the J. I. Segal Award–winning volume available to English readers for the first time.
In the collection’s eponymous novella, Rachel, a daughter of Holocaust survivors raised in Brighton Beach, encounters a Moldovan Jewish immigrant divorcee as she is tending to her disabled, elderly mother along the Coney Island boardwalk. As the two begin a relationship, the story reveals their past and the commonalities between two children of Holocaust survivors raised in very different societies. In the novella Karolina Bugaz, an exhausted Moldovan Jewish immigrant architect leaves his wife and newly religious son behind to go on a cruise to a mysterious island, which may just be a direct voyage through space and time into his past. In the volume’s most acclaimed story, Halfway Down the Road Back to You, an elderly Moldovan Holocaust survivor in Israel separated from her children by emigration must confront her past as her failing mind begins to blur the boundaries between her daily life and the horrors of war sixty years before. The novella was adapted by the author into an acclaimed play, which has been staged in the United States, Belgium, and France.
Boris Sandler is one of the leading Yiddish fiction writers of the postwar generation and has received
every major contemporary Yiddish literary award for his work. He served as the editor-in-chief of the Yiddish Forward from 1998 to 2016. Sandler’s work has been translated into English, Hebrew, Russian, German, and Romanian.
A prolific translator of Yiddish literature, Barnett Zumoff has published twenty-four volumes of poetry and prose translation. In addition, he is a professor of endocrinology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.