Itsik Malpesh was born the son of a goose-plucking factory manager during the Russian pogroms - his life saved on the night it began by the young daughter of a kosher slaughterer. Or so he believes... Exiled during the war, Itsik eventually finds himself in New York, working as a typesetter and writing poetry to his muse, the butcher's daughter, whom he is sure he will never see again.
But it is here in New York that Itsik is unexpectedly reunited with his greatest love - and, later, his greatest enemy - with results both serendipitous and tragic.
His story is recounted in his memoirs thanks to the most unlikely of translators - a twenty-one-year-old Boston Catholic college student who, in meeting Itsik, has embarked upon a great lie that will define his future and the most extraordinary friendship he'll ever know.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 400 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd
- Publication Date: 30/05/2009
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9781847393388
- EPUB from £5.99
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Review by polarbear123
A tale of lives intertwined and fate, chance and 'bashert'. A modern day translator/student finds himself translating the life story of the last Yisddish poet, Itsik Malpesh. The strength of this book lies in the earlier part of the story with the colourful descriptions of life in Kishiniev and the little Itsik growing up. There is humour here and great human tragedy. The prose flows freely and there are beautiful turns of phrases throughout. There are particularly clever ruminations on the nature of litereature and the power of a translation. Although the story later on might fall into traditional love/life/tragedy fare this is still a novel to relish with a hugely satisfying feeling to it.