Songs for the Butcher's Daughter A Novel (Paperback)
|Author: Peter Manseau|
|A novel of faith lost and hope found in translation, this is at once an immigrant''s epic saga, a love story for the ages, and a Yiddish-inflected laughing-through-tears tour of world history.|
From the Publisher:
Summer, sweltering, 1996. A book warehouse in western Massachusetts. A man at the beginning of his adult life -- and the end of his career rope -- becomes involved with a woman, a language, and a great lie that will define his future. Most auspiciously of all, he runs across Itsik Malpesh, a ninetysomething Russian immigrant who claims to be the last Yiddish poet in America. When a set of accounting ledgers in which Malpesh has written his memoirs surfaces -- twenty-two volumes brimming with adventure, drama, deception, passion, and wit -- the young man is compelled to translate them, telling Malpesh's story as his own life unfolds, and bringing together two paths that coincide in shocking and unexpected ways.
Moving from revolutionary Russia to New York's Depression-era Lower East Side to millennium's-end Baltimore with drama, adventure, and boisterous, feisty charm to spare, the unpeeling of this friendship is a story of the entire twentieth century. For fans of Nicole Krauss, Nathan Englander, Richard Powers, Amy Bloom, and Lore Segal, this book will amaze at every turn: narrated by two poets (one who doesn't know he is and one who doesn't know he isn't), it is a wise and warm look at the constant surprises and ineluctable ravages of time. It's a book about religion, love, and typesetting -- how one passion can be used to goad and thwart the other -- and most of all, about how faith in the power of words can survive even the death of a language.
A novel of faith lost and hope found in translation, Songs for the Butcher's Daughter is at once an immigrant's epic saga, a love story for the ages, a Yiddish-inflected laughing-through-tears tour of world history for Jews and Gentiles alike, and a testament to Manseau's ambitious genius.
It is a fairly safe bet that Peter Manseau is the only son of a priest and a nun to ever win the National Jewish Book Award, which he did in 2008 with SONGS FOR THE BUTCHER'S DAUGHTER. Manseau, who documented his unusual spiritual upbringing in his memoir, VOWS, has proven himself an adept novelist with this debut, which tells the epic story of Itsik Malpesh, a Yiddish poet who spent his life in love with a photograph of a girl. Malpesh is now 90 years old, and he is desperate to find someone to translate his massive memoirs. A young man with a working knowledge of Yiddish fortuitously arrives, and begins to immerse himself in Malpesh's memories, which take him from revolutionary Russia to the Lower East Side of New York. The parallel romantic adventures of these two men will eventually lead them to discover the hidden bonds that connect them across a generation in this moving and expansive modern classic.