Dineh: An Autobiographical Novel
By Ida Maze, translated by Yermiyahu Ahron Taub
Published by White Goat Press (2022)
Available in English-translation for the first time, Dineh, posthumously published, is an autobiographical Yiddish-language novel by Ida Maze (1893-1962). Translated by Yermiyahu Ahron Taub, Dineh is a pastorale laced with beauty and sorrow and a bildungsroman told from the point of view of a young girl. Living in what is now Belarus, Maze’s heroine is fueled by her hunger for learning, connection to family and community, and love of the natural world.
"Maze's posthumous novel presents the beauty, poverty, and tragedy of Belarus during the First Russian Revolution as seen through the eyes of a young Jewish girl...A tragic, lovely, and important novel in translation." - Kirkus Reviews
" ...Yermiyahu Ahron Taub brings this world to life again in English with great poetic sensitivity and illuminates Maze's contributions to Yiddish literature in a fascinating afterword. This novel should take a prominent place in the expanding canon of Yiddish women writers brought out of entirely undeserved obscurity." - Ross Benjamin, translator of Kafka's Diary
Maze interweaves Dineh’s story with portraits of others, chiefly women and girls, in her community. We meet the mysterious seamstress Shprintse; Beyle, who leaves home to work as a maidservant in Minsk; and Hinde, who falls in love with a young nobleman, among numerous unforgettable others. Maze unflinchingly examines the lives of women, writing about class stratification, thwarted romance, violence (domestic, state-instigated, and otherwise), and the perils of childbirth. She was also interested in the lives of non-Jews and in relations between Jews and non-Jews. Propelling the novel forward are the tightening noose of Tsarist anti-Semitism, the increasing restrictions on Jewish economic survival, and the rising tide of revolutionary movements. Taken as a whole, Dineh provides a haunting portrait of rural, village, and small-town life in White Russia in the last decade of the nineteenth and early years of the twentieth centuries.
Dineh is a 2022 Great Jewish Books Club selection.
About the Author
Born Hayeh Zukofsky in 1893 in the village of Ugli, White Russia (now Belarus), Ida Maze was an important figure in the world of Yiddish letters. After emigrating from White Russia, she lived briefly in New York City and then settled in Montreal. Maze'e generosity was the stuff of legend. She helped refugee writers navigate the Canadian immigration system, edited the books of other poets, and advocated for writers in many ways. The doors of her home were always open, and many Yiddish writers gathered there. Ida Maze died in Montreal in 1962.
About the Translator
Yermiyahu Ahron Taub is a poet, writer, and Yiddish translator, He is the author of six books of poetry, including A moyz tsvishn vakldike volkn-kratsers: geklibene Yidishe lider ( A Mouse Among Tottering Skyscrapers: Selected Yiddish Poems; Library of Contemporary Yiddish Literature (2017), and two works of fiction, including Beloved Comrades: a Novel in Stories (Anaphora Literary Press, 2020). He is the translator from the Yiddish of May God Avenge Their Blood: A Holocaust Memoir Tryptich by Rachmil Bryks (Lexington Books, 2020); Lexington Studies in Jewish Literature Series. He is an alum of the Yiddish Book Center's Translation Fellowship and the recipient of the Yiddish Book Center's Translation Prize (2012).