On the Landing: Stories by Yenta Mash [Mīkstie vāki]

, Afterword by , Translated by
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A Yiddish Book Center Translation

In these sixteen stories, available in English for the first time, prize-winning author Yenta Mash traces an arc across continents, across upheavals and regime changes, and across the phases of a woman’s life. Mash’s protagonists are often in transit, poised “on the landing” on their way to or from somewhere else. In imaginative, poignant, and relentlessly honest prose, translated from the Yiddish by Ellen Cassedy, Mash documents the lost world of Jewish Bessarabia, the texture of daily life behind the Iron Curtain in Soviet Moldova, and the challenges of assimilation in Israel.

On the Landing opens by inviting us to join a woman making her way through her ruined hometown, recalling the colorful customs of yesteryear—and the night when everything changed. We then travel into the Soviet gulag, accompanying women prisoners into the fearsome forests of Siberia. In postwar Soviet Moldova, we see how the Jewish community rebuilds itself. On the move once more, we join refugees struggling to find their place in Israel. Finally, a late-life romance brings a blossoming of joy.

Drawing on a lifetime of repeated uprooting, Mash offers an intimate perch from which to explore little-known corners of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. A master chronicler of exile, she makes a major contribution to the literature of immigration and resilience, adding her voice to those of Jhumpa Lahiri, W. G. Sebald, André Aciman, and Viet Thanh Nguyen. Mash’s literary oeuvre is a brave achievement, and her work is urgently relevant today as displaced people seek refuge across the globe.


"Mash's compact stories draw from her difficult life - including her experiences in the Siberian gulag, her postwar decades in Kishinev and her immigration to Israel in the 1970s.These small gems give voice both to the insufficiently documented story of Jewish deportees in Siberia and to the unique experience of Bessarabian Jews." * J. The Jewish News of Northern California * "An important contribution... much appreciated." * Yiddish Forverts * "Each story is a gem.... Mash's narrative skill is quietly astonishing." * Jewish Book Council * "Small gems." * jweekly.com * "Yenta Mash's stories are a must-a reminder that, through the persecutions in the Russian Pale, 'something very important has been lost,' but also that something strong survives." * Foreword Reviews * "Ellen Cassedy has done marvelous work combing through Mash's four collections to select these stories and bringing them to life in an English that honors the beauty and texture of the author's vision. Highly recommended for all libraries." * Association of Jewish Libraries Reviews * "Dor ayn, dor oys, der emes blaybt! (From one generation to the next, the truth will out!)" * Yiddish Branzhe * "Mash's collection keeps us alert to the riches to be discoveredshowing us the many worlds in which Yiddish thrived and suffered in the twentieth century." * In Geveb *

The Bridegroom Tree
Resting Place
The Payback
A Seder In The Taiga
On The Landing
Mona Bubbe
By The Light Of The Moon
The Irony Of Fate
At The Western Wall
The Cap
Ingathering Of Exiles
The Second Time Around
About Yenta Mash 173(12)
Jessica Kirzane
Ellen Cassedy
Translator's Note 185
Ellen Cassedy
Yenta Mash (1922-2013) was born and raised in Bessarabia in southeastern Europe. She survived Siberian exile, then settled in Chisinau, Moldova, before immigrating to Israel. Her prize-winning fiction draws on her life, spanning continents, regime changes, and historical eras. Ellen Cassedy is the author of We Are Here and co-translator of Oedipus in Brooklyn and Other Stories. She was a 2015 Yiddish Book Center Translation Fellow and this volume is a result of her fellowship.