"When an ominous police vehicle arrives late at night at the door of Solomon Levinson, erstwhile star of Moscow Yiddish Theater, he figures he is doomed to prison or worse. What has he got to lose? Three dead bodies later, a plan is hatched with the help of a doctor, a black engineer (nicknamed Paul Robeson, at least when the locals are being polite), and a mysterious woman. The task? Prevent the ultimate pogrom, a plan to wipe out the Jews of the Soviet Union. Jumping back and forth in time, Paul Goldberg blends history and imagination to tell a story that’s equal parts violence and slapstick. The narrative periodically veers into dramatic staging, showing how the artificial outrageousness of the story is not much more dramatic than the absurd contradictions of the Soviet totalitarian regime – Stalin’s purge was inspired by his contention that Soviet doctors were part of a cabal that was surreptitiously killing political leaders. The Yid is a skillful mashup of Michael Chabon and Quentin Tarantino, with enough factual details to even appeal to history buffs. On finishing the story, I immediately thought of a half dozen people who’d love it, and isn’t that the mark of a great read?"— Daniel Goldin
February 2016 Indie Next List
“When Solomon Levinson escapes arrest in the final days of Joseph Stalin's regime, he embarks on a quixotic attempt to kill the leader of the Soviet Union. Along with Friederich Lewis, an African American who has left Omaha for the Soviet Union, and a ragtag crew of Soviet dissenters, Levinson races to thwart a monstrous plan to unleash a second Holocaust against the Jews of Russia. The Yid is a very serious farce, a philosophical novel larded with pitch black comedy. Fans of City of Thieves and Absurdistan will love Goldberg's ambitious new novel.”
— David Enyeart (E), Common Good Books, St. Paul, MN
A DEBUT NOVEL OF DARING ORIGINALITY, THE YID GUARANTEES THAT YOU WILL NEVER THINK OF STALINIST RUSSIA, SHAKESPEARE, THEATER, YIDDISH, OR HISTORY THE SAME WAY AGAIN
Moscow, February 1953. A week before Stalin's death, his final pogrom, "one that would forever rid the Motherland of the vermin," is in full swing. Three government goons arrive in the middle of the night to arrest Solomon Shimonovich Levinson, an actor from the defunct State Jewish Theater. But Levinson, though an old man, is a veteran of past wars, and his shocking response to the intruders sets in motion a series of events both zany and deadly as he proceeds to assemble a ragtag group to help him enact a mad-brilliant plot: the assassination of a tyrant.
While the setting is Soviet Russia, the backdrop is Shakespeare: A mad king has a diabolical plan to exterminate and deport his country's remaining Jews. Levinson's cast of unlikely heroes includes Aleksandr Kogan, a machine-gunner in Levinson's Red Army band who has since become one of Moscow's premier surgeons; Friederich Lewis, an African American who came to the USSR to build smelters and stayed to work as an engineer, learning Russian, Esperanto, and Yiddish; and Kima Petrova, an enigmatic young woman with a score to settle. And wandering through the narrative, like a crazy Soviet Ragtime, are such historical figures as Paul Robeson, Solomon Mikhoels, and Marc Chagall.
As hilarious as it is moving, as intellectual as it is violent, Paul Goldberg's THE YID is a tragicomic masterpiece of historical fiction.
About the Author
Paul Goldberg was born in Moscow in 1959 and emigrated to the U.S. at age 14. An award-winning investigative reporter, he is the editor and publisher of The Cancer Letter, a weekly publication focused on the business and politics of cancer. His articles have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and elsewhere, and he has been featured on 60 Minutes, 20/20, CNN and NPR. He is the author of two books on the Soviet human rights movement, The Final Act and The Thaw Generation (with Ludmilla Alexeyeva), and co-author (with Otis Brawley) of a book about the American healthcare system, How We Do Harm. The Yid is his first novel.