The Mol­da­vian Pimp

Edgar­do Cozarin­sky; Nick Cais­tor, trans.
  • Review
By – December 12, 2011

The Mol­da­vian Pimp is a rich­ly tex­tured nov­el by the Argen­tinean writer and film­mak­er Edgar­do Cozarin­sky. Set both in Paris and Buenos Aires, the action opens when the nar­ra­tor, a twen­ty-five year-old stu­dent inter­est­ed in unearthing unusu­al sto­ries, pays a vis­it to an elder­ly man named Samuel Warschauer, a col­lec­tor of old Yid­dish plays. The nar­ra­tor soon comes into pos­ses­sion of one of these scripts, enti­tled The Mol­da­vian Pimp, and then embarks on a quest to uncov­er the cir­cum­stances of the play’s composition. 

What fol­lows is a grace­ful yet com­plex nar­ra­tive, woven through with vivid, cul­tur­al detail and the narrator’s imag­i­na­tive mus­ings. At the heart of the novel’s his­tor­i­cal con­text, and the narrator’s obses­sion, is the slave trade of the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry which brought many young Jew­ish women from the Ukraine to Argenti­na. Specif­i­cal­ly, we learn about the melan­cholic love tri­an­gle between two such Jew­ish women and a young Samuel Warschauer. The action fol­lows the narrator’s inves­ti­ga­tions, lead­ing us through a world of broth­els and tan­go halls, jour­ney­ing back and forth between the past and present. Through­out this book, the read­er is repeat­ed­ly struck by Cozarinsky’s stun­ning depic­tion of these for­got­ten places and, implic­it­ly, by how much of our world today must still remain hid­den and unexamined. 

Phil Sandick is a grad­u­ate of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia and the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wis­con­sin-Madi­son. He has taught cours­es in lit­er­a­ture, com­po­si­tion, and cre­ative writ­ing since 2006. Phil is cur­rent­ly study­ing rhetoric and com­po­si­tion at the Uni­ver­si­ty of North Car­oli­na-Chapel Hill.

Discussion Questions