Tue, Sep 19|
Folio: The Seattle Athenaeum
How the Soviet Jew Was Made with Sasha Senderovich
Time & Location
Sep 19, 2023, 6:30 PM – 8:00 PM
Folio: The Seattle Athenaeum, 93 Pike St #307, Seattle, WA 98101, USA
About the Event
Folio: The Seattle Athenaeum is thrilled to welcome back author Sasha Senderovich for an in-person lecture and reception on his latest book How the Soviet Jew Was Made.
A close reading of post-revolutionary Russian and Yiddish literature and film recasts the Soviet Jew as a novel cultural figure: not just a minority but an ambivalent character navigating between the Jewish past and Bolshevik modernity.
The Russian Revolution of 1917 transformed the Jewish community of the former tsarist empire. The Pale of Settlement on the empire’s western borderlands, where Jews had been required to live, was abolished several months before the Bolsheviks came to power. Many Jews quickly exited the shtetls, seeking prospects elsewhere. Some left for bigger cities, others for Europe, America, or Palestine. Thousands tried their luck in the newly established Jewish Autonomous Region in the Far East, where urban merchants would become tillers of the soil. For these Jews, Soviet modernity meant freedom, the possibility of the new, and the pressure to discard old ways of life.
This ambivalence was embodied in the Soviet Jew—not just a descriptive demographic term but a novel cultural figure. In insightful readings of Yiddish and Russian literature, films, and reportage, Sasha Senderovich finds characters traversing space and history and carrying with them the dislodged practices and archetypes of a lost Jewish world. There is the Siberian settler of Viktor Fink’s Jews in the Taiga, the folkloric trickster of Isaac Babel, and the fragmented, bickering family of Moyshe Kulbak’s The Zelmenyaners, whose insular lives are disrupted by the march of technological, political, and social change. There is the collector of ethnographic tidbits, the pogrom survivor, the émigré who repatriates to the USSR.
Sasha Senderovich is Associate Professor in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures and the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington, Seattle, where he is also an affiliate of the Stroum Center for Jewish Studies. With Harriet Murav, he translated the Yiddish writer David Bergelson’s novel Judgment. Senderovich has written on contemporary fiction by Russian Jewish émigré authors in the United States including Gary Shteyngart, Anya Ulinich, David Bezmozgis, and Irina Reyn.
Folio Members$12.00+$0.30 service fee
General Admission$15.00+$0.38 service fee
Pay What You WantPay what you want+Service fee