Pocket Books £7.99
Songs for the Butcher's Daughter, By Peter Manseau
Sunday 21 February 2010
Itsik Malpesh, a Jew born in turn-of-the-century Russia, is four years old when the butcher's daughter saves his life during a pogrom. (Or so he's told. Much later in the story, we hear the butcher's daughter's side of things.) As a child, he works in a goose-down factory, until he's press-ganged into the Russian army. Escaping, he finds refuge in Odessa, where he enjoys a couple of peaceful years before being smuggled to the US in a trunk, where he becomes a poet, writing in Yiddish. After that, the hectic pace of Peter Manseau's novel slows a little, but still to come are love affairs, unexpected reunions and a murder.
The narrative is intercut with notes from the translator of these memoirs, who meets Malpesh when the poet is a nonagenarian. The lives of Jewish communities in early 20th-century Russia and America are so vividly realised, I assumed that the author must be Jewish; but, like his fictional translator, Manseau is actually a Yiddish-speaking Catholic. It's a picaresque novel with an epic sweep, containing tragedy, comedy and a huge love of life.
Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year
TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Which country would be hardest to invade?
- 2 Indonesia executions: Death row British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford will refuse to wear a blindfold when she faces firing squad
- 3 The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
- 4 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
- 5 Royal baby girl born: Duchess of Cambridge's second child will be a princess thanks to Queen
Avengers: Age of Ultron set to make box office history with $84.5m US opening
London Marathon: Best running songs from Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar to 'Uptown Funk'
The highly NSFW poster for Gaspar Noé's Love makes Nymphomaniac look like 50 Shades
Red Dwarf returns: Craig Charles quits Coronation Street to return to comedy sci-fi series
New on Netflix UK May 2015: From Fast & Furious 6 to World War Z and Grace and Frankie
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
Indonesia executions live: 'Hysterical' families heard prisoners being shot dead by firing squad
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: SNP and its activists 'openly racist' towards the English, Farage says
EU exit would hit UK economy much harder than neighbouring countries, study finds