Great Jewish Books Club

2022 Great Jewish Books Club: Sutzkever Essential Prose

The 2022 Great Jewish Books Club Fifth Selection: Avrom Sutzkever (1913–2010) spent his childhood in Siberia and emerged as a writer in the burgeoning literary circles of Jewish Vilna. In the Vilna Ghetto, he wrote poetry as a means of survival. As a member of what became known as the Paper Brigade, he helped to save Jewish cultural treasures from Nazi destruction. After the war, he became an influential advocate and activist for Yiddish culture, as well as a symbol of resistance through acts such as his testimony at the Nuremberg trials. He founded the Yiddish literary journal Di goldene keyt (The Golden Chain) and in 1985 received the Israel Prize for Yiddish literature.

“Every page of this book—marvelously translated by Zackary Sholem Berger—trembles with smoldering vitality, and every page persuades us that the angel of prose confided in Sutzkever as faithfully as the angel of poetry. Readers of this book will not fail to appreciate how Sutzkever’s unconquered past [...] bears on our present.”
—Benjamin Balint, author of Kafka’s Last Trial