Alan Astro's pioneering collection of Latin American Yiddish writings translated into English includes works of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Uruguay, Colombia, and Cuba.
Literature has always served as a refuge for Yiddish speakers, and the Yiddish literature of Latin America reflects the writers' assertions of their political rights. Stories depicting working-class life in Buenos Aires by José Rabinovich and Samuel Rollansky evoke the works of Abraham Cahan and Henry Roth. Rosa Palatnik in Rio de Janeiro, Abraham Weisbaum in Mexico City, José Goldchain in Santiago de Chile, and Salomón Zytner in Montevideo satirize bourgeois aspirations among Jews distancing themselves from their modest backgrounds--one of Philip Roth's major themes. Abraham Josef Dubelman and Aaron Zeitlin in Cuba ponder possible links to the crypto-Jews who came to the New World to escape the Inquisition.
Themes of identity permeate Latin American Yiddish writing, and the works featured in this anthology provide a glimpse into Jewish life and culture throughout Latin America. As Ilan Stavans notes in the introduction, "This anthology documents that Yiddish--or, in one of its Spanish spellings, idish--also flourished in Latin America, leaving behind powerfully artistic testaments."
"This pioneering anthology whets the readers appetite, and encourages one to hope that many more translations of Latin American Yiddish writing will soon join its ranks."--Shofar
"Latin American Yiddish literature is greater and more varied than most imagine it would be. Despite its long life and widespread presence, the Latin influence, linguistically and culturally in Yiddish writing, has been neglected by scholars. Yiddish South of the Border is the first ever anthology of Latin American Yiddish works translated into English. . . . Excellent for Yiddish group readings and discussions."--Der Bay Jewish Newsletter