Yom Kip­pur in Ams­ter­dam: Stories

  • Review
By – September 16, 2011

In Yom Kip­pur in Ams­ter­dam, Max­im Shray­er explores the com­plex and often dif­fi­cult adjust­ments of Russ­ian-Jew­ish immi­grants to Amer­i­can life. Shray­er him­self was born in Moscow in 1967 and spent nine years as a refusenik before emi­grat­ing to the Unit­ed States in 1987

In the title sto­ry, Russ­ian-born Jake Glaz flees his home in Bal­ti­more after a painful break-up with a Catholic girl­friend who is unable to con­vert to Judaism. After a restora­tive week on the Riv­iera, he finds him­self in the seedy, red-light alley­ways of Ams­ter­dam just hours before the eve of Yom Kippur. 

In Sonatch­ka,” two old friends reunite in sub­ur­ban Con­necti­cut and rem­i­nisce about their ear­ly lives in Moscow. As the day wanes, painful truths emerge about their cur­rent circumstance.

The Afterlove,” set entire­ly in Rus­sia, is a bit­ter­sweet com­ing-of-age tale. Set first at a glit­ter­ing din­ner par­ty of the Moscow intel­li­gentsia in the ear­ly 1980’s, it trav­els back in time to 1945. Young Pavel Lidin and Fyo­dor Shtock are select­ed to spend a sum­mer at an exper­i­men­tal gov­ern­ment-run post-World War II sum­mer camp. Through­out, the writ­ing is soul­ful, evoca­tive, and deeply detailed. 

Max­im Shray­er, chair­man of the depart­ment of Slav­ic and East­ern Lan­guages at Boston Col­lege, has pub­lished a mem­oir, Wait­ing for Amer­i­ca, and sev­er­al books on Jew­ish-Russ­ian literature.

Judith Felsen­feld book of short fic­tion, Blaustein’s Kiss, was pub­lished in April, 2014. Her sto­ries have appeared in numer­ous mag­a­zines and lit­er­ary reviews, includ­ing The Chica­go Review, The South­west Review, Blue Mesa, and broad­cast nation­wide on NPR’s Select­ed Shorts.

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