Christian Holub
February 11, 2016 AT 09:56 PM EST

The Yid: A Novel

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Paul Goldberg
publisher
Picador
genre
Novel

We gave it an B-

Paul Goldberg’s debut novel aims to give the Soviet Union its own version of Inglourious Basterds. Set in 1953 Moscow, The Yid features a small band of friends (most of them over 60) who decide to fight back against a proposed Holocaust-like pogrom of Russian Jews by assassinating Joseph Stalin. Unfortunately, this lean premise gets bogged down with too many references. Russia has one of the richest artistic traditions in the world, and Goldberg plugs himself in. He triangulates Pushkin’s poetry, Stanislavsky’s Method acting, and Gogol’s surrealism to attempt a referendum on the nature of madness and the historic evil of the anti-Semitic “blood libel.” There’s a lot going on, which makes it hard to keep track of everything. The book’s more vivid sequences sometimes get lost in a tangle of bilingual dialogue, alternating formats, and shifting tenses. B–

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