Warsaw Stories By Hersh Dovid Nomberg, translated by Daniel Kennedy
A new translation from the Yiddish Book Center's White Goat Press
“Tinged with the deeply hopeless, yet nervously optimistic perspective of pre-WWII Jewish intellectuals, the stories of Hersh Dovid Nomberg evoke the lost world of Jewish luftmentsh autodidacts floating between urban cultures while in the process of creating their own. Daniel Kennedy’s sharp translation shows us a rich Yiddish landscape riddled with young Jews deep in intellectual ferment, culturally unmoored, but with a curiosity for life that swells hearts.”
— Eddy Portnoy
In this new English translation, Hersh Dovid Nomberg’s stories explore modern Jewish life in the growing cosmopolitan city of Warsaw: young intellectuals in pursuit of truth and beauty; working class fathers tempted by schemes for easy money; and teenagers caught between desire and tradition. By turns comic, satiric, and earnest, Nomberg’s stories take the pulse of Warsaw’s Jewish society at the dawn of the twentieth century.
Hersh Dovid Nomberg (1876–1927) was one of the new wave of Yiddish writers in the early 20th century who made a name for himself with his characteristically atmospheric short stories, mostly set in Warsaw, populated by artists, philosophers, and other outcasts.
Newly translated by Daniel Kennedy, a literary translator based in France. He is a two-time Yiddish Book Center Translation Fellow, managing editor for translations at In geveb: a Journal of Yiddish Studies, and co-founder of Farlag Press.
What the Critics Say
“Hilarious and insightful, a glimpse of a vanished world seen close at hand, with poverty, propriety, romance, and much more. Nomberg was a forgotten genius, forgotten until . . . now! A very fine translation, too!”
—Paul Buhle (from the book jacket)
“Thanks to the Yiddish Book Center’s new publishing imprint, White Goat Press, and Daniel Kennedy’s superb translation, we can now rediscover Nomberg’s poignant, unsettling, and deeply moving stories about uprooted Jews. Warsaw Stories invents a landscape inhabited by young Jews in flight from tradition, betwixt and between worlds, at home nowhere, dreaming, swindling, gossiping, masquerading, rebelling, yearning, overcome with rage and shame, and above all, feeling lost in a disorienting urban landscape.”
—Donald Weber for the Jewish Book Council (read the full review)
“This book is a mekhaye [delight] for a teacher. Nomberg’s Warsaw Stories in Daniel Kennedy’s faithful English translation contain rich material for the teaching of Yiddish literature, culture, and history; and are timely reading for the contemporary moment.”
—Mikhail Krutikov for the Forward, in Yiddish (read the full review)
“Fliglman [is] the hero of one of Hersh Dovid Nomberg’s Warsaw Stories, a collection of which has just been brought out by the Yiddish Book Center, with Kennedy’s excellent translation. ‘Fliglman' was Nomberg’s literary breakthrough, and rightly so. The story is a heartbreaker, and the cigarette smoke practically rises from the page.”
—Rokhl Kafrissen for Tablet Magazine (read the full review)
“Daniel Kennedy hereby offers two books to the English-reading realm that, in addition to their literary merit and their value as classics of Yiddish literature, can prove compelling to contemporary readers looking for literary representations of the unfolding trainwreck that is our media-crazed, erev-apocalyptic generation.”
—Ri J. Turner for In geveb (a review of Warsaw Stories and Daniel Kennedy's translation of Zalman Shneour’s A Death: Notes of a Suicide) (read the full review)
Daniel Kennedy reads the opening of “Fliglman” by Nomberg for a new project, “Translators Aloud,” which posts short videos of translators reading their work.