The Yid by Paul Goldberg

The Yid takes place in Stalin’s Russia shortly before his death in 1953 and is a brilliant work of “reimagined” historical fiction.  Solomon Shimonovich Levinson, a former actor with the State Jewish Theater, is about to be arrested.  Realizing that his life is in peril and that he has nothing left to lose, he decides to use his acting skills for what might well be his final and most important performance.

What follows is a wild and zany adventure in which Levinson, an actor and Red Army vet; Aleksandr Kogan, a Moscow surgeon; Friederich Lewis, an African American engineer working in the USSR; and Moisey Rabinovich, a pharmacist and Red Army vet, take to the road in a stolen Black Maria, a car used by the KGB to transport prisoners, in an all-out effort to stop Stalin’s planned pogrom to kill Soviet Jews, scheduled to begin any day.

The Yid is told in three Acts and frequently references theater, actors, and writers.  It successfully combines Shakespearean tragedy with vaudevillian comedy.  Just imagine Kinig Lir (King Lear) with a touch of the James Bond and It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World.  While serious discussions about racism, anti-Semitism, persecution, human rights and the abuse of power by those in control are found throughout the book, it is the humor that gives this story its power. In times of tragedy or persecution, comedy is often the only weapon available to help people fight for their dignity, pride and above all, their sanity.

Leave a Reply