Hersh Dovid Nomberg

Warsaw Stories, translated by Daniel Kennedy (White Goat Press, 2019)

Hilarious and insightful, a glimpse of a vanished world seen close at hand
Paul Buhle

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.

In this new English translation, 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.

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

“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, Jewish Book Council

“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, Forward (in Yiddish)

“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, Tablet Magazine

“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, In geveb: A Journal of Yiddish Studies

About the Author

Hersh Dovid Nomberg was a writer and activist born in 1876 in Mszczonów, near Warsaw. Raised in a strictly Hasidic environment, Nomberg began to dabble in forbidden secular texts, whereupon he experienced crisis of faith. Nomberg's newfound atheism and growing literary ambitions led him to Warsaw where he became a protégé of I. L. Peretz. He began publishing poems and short stories in 1900 in both Yiddish and Hebrew, and was considered one of the most influential Yiddish writers of his generation.

About the Translator

Daniel Kennedy is 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 a co-founder of Farlag Press.