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Set in 1920s Chicago, the short novel Yudl follows its eponymous protagonist, a middle-aged editor at a left-leaning newspaper called The Yiddish Courier. Yudl and his wife have decided to become landlords, purchasing a vacant lot and hiring an acquaintance–aptly named Mason–to oversee the construction of their future apartment building. However, delays in the construction leave Yudl and his family without a home, forcing them to stay with Mason and his family until the construction is finally complete. Told with wry wit and a masterful sensibility for metaphor, the story explores gender, Zionism, and the immigrant experience in the US.
The selection of short stories that follow the novel in this volume were selected by the author from her deathbed during her last weeks and then hours on earth. Silbert’s stories focus on the family, allowing the student glimpses of a child’s happiness, the cripplingly contradictory demands of femininity, the complexity of grief, and a sustained meditation on life and death.