Review by Saul Silverman
Ottawa Jewish Bulletin, Mar. 5 2001
Falik Zolf's autobiography, On Foreign Soil, will, I believe, gain recognition as a classic of the genre produced in Canada and (in its print edition, which is a hybrid of both Yiddish and English) could well become a serious candidate for the Governor General's literary award for translation. The web version of volume one, originally published in the Winnipeg Yiddish newspaper, Yiddisher Vort, in the mid-1940s, is a wholly English version of the new translation by Martin Green (http://www.onforeignsoil.com - click the link "Can I see an English translation?").Falik Zolf, the father of Leibel - Larry - Zolf, was a poorly paid melamed in the Winnipeg Yiddish-speaking community. At the time of the wiping out of the shtetls of Eastern Europe, Falk Zolf undertook to defy the Holocaust by an act of creative memory - to tell the story of his people, as epitomized in his own life. He creates an inner biography of the shtetl intellectual, a bright yeshivah bocher, who is drawn into the clash between traditionalism and secular modernism and then witnesses the first waves of physical destruction that completed this cultural uprooting - war, revolution, and the Soviet regime (1914-1926). A remarkable work - I can't wait till the next volume appears, which tells the story of Zolf's life, and disappointments, in Canada!
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