Celia Dropkin

Desires, translated by Anita Norich (White Goat Press, 2024)

...Desires reflects on the...conflicts of love, domesticity, and sexuality."
Ezra Glinter

Desires, the only novel by Celia (Tsilye) Dropkin (1887–1956), was originally serialized between March 31 and June 6, 1934, in the Jewish Daily Forward, or Forverts. Dropkin, a poet known for sexual and erotic themes, was born in Babruysk, a city in what is now Belarus, and immigrated to New York in 1912, where she adopted Yiddish as her primary literary language. In the 1930s  she turned to prose, publishing this novel and ten short stories that appeared in the journal Tsukunft (Future). In Desires, as in much of her work, Dropkin reflects on the internal and external conflicts of love, domesticity, and the erotic life. Through characters carefully drawn from her own immigrant milieu, Dropkin addresses the yearnings of both the body and mind, the tension between excitement and security, and the conflicting impulses that are part of the human condition.

About the Author

Celia (Tsilye) Dropkin, née Tsipporah Levine (1887–1956), was born in Babruysk in what is now Belarus. After attending Russian-language schools and teaching briefly in Warsaw, she went to Kiev in 1907. There she met the Hebrew writer Uri Nissan Gnessin and began to write poems in Russian, one of which Gnessin adapted into Hebrew and published without acknowledging its source. In 1912 she joined her husband in New York, where she continued to write in Russian but also began to publish Yiddish translations of her Russian poetry. Known primarily as a Yiddish poet, she was also a painter and wrote short stories and the novel Di tsvey gefiln (Two Feelings, translated here as Desires) in the 1930s. Her poetry has been both lauded and criticized for its sexual imagery and eroticism.

About the Translator

Anita Norich is the Tikva Frymer-Kensky Collegiate Professor Emerita of English and Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan. She is the translator of Fear and Other Stories by Chana Blankshteyn (2022), From Lublin to New York by Kadya Molodovsky (2019), and numerous short stories. She is also the author of Writing in Tongues: Yiddish Translation in the 20th Century (2013), Discovering Exile: Yiddish and Jewish American Literature in America During the Holocaust (2007), The Homeless Imagination in the Fiction of Israel Joshua Singer (1991), and co-editor of Languages of Modern Jewish Cultures: Comparative Perspectives (2016), Jewish Literatures and Cultures: Context and Intertext (2008), and Gender and Text in Modern Hebrew and Yiddish Literatures (1992). She translates Yiddish literature and teaches, lectures, and publishes on a range of topics concerning modern Jewish cultures, Yiddish language and literature, Jewish American literature, and Holocaust literature.