With an Unopened Umbrella
Transalted by Alistair Ian Blyth
Erased from the national literature when he moved to Israel, Romanian writer Ludovic Bruckstien’s work has remained undiscovered for many years. His writing is centered on the multicultural Carpathian region during the years proceeding, and including, World War II
The stories in this collection are stories of the lives and struggles of a wonderful variety of characters living in the Maramures region, in the years leading up to a war that will suddenly and irretrievably destroy the pattern of their existence. The eerily shocking ending of many of these stories is the moment their protagonists climb on the cattle trains to be transported to Auschwitz; while leaving the tale of their often tragic fate unstated.
Bruckstein’s works, novels, stories and plays, deal with the sometimes cruel, sometimes comic, lives of simple people whose fate is controlled by highly unpredictable forces. These he describes with understanding, compassion and forgiveness; smiling at the petty worries and trivialities that people take so seriously, while often remaining unaware of very real and existential dangers. He belongs to a generation so well described by the writer Czeslaw Milosz, in his book, The Captive Mind: “Few inhabitants of the Baltic States, Poland or Czechoslovakia, of Hungary or Romania, could summarize in a few words the story of their existence. Their lives have been complicated by the course of historic events”.
Shinning Examples of Yiddish Stroytelling
"His evocations of Jewish life in the Carpahians. . . are comparable to those of I L Peretz and Sholem Aleichem in Poland and Russia. Like them, Bruckstein is a secular Maggid, a product of the Chasidic storytelling tradition, his cast of blacksmiths, porters, cabinet-makers, businessemn and schnorrers, remnants of a world on the brink of annihilation."
Mark Glanville, The Jewish Chronicle
"Gentle, humourous, humane, and with such pain and sadness, yet never ponderous. The stories of the lives of people like my grandparents are so wonderful to read. A world sent asunder by the war and the killings. The naïveté of the people, the shock. . . The translation is also utterly beautiful. Blyth must be praised. "
Lisa Forrell, Theatre and film director, actor and writer
"Bruckstein, who himself was sent to Auschwitz and beared the horrors of life in a labour camp, writes with nuance and understanding about the plight of individuals against the sweeping – and often unfathomably cruel – arm of history. A prolific writer of plays, stories and novels – with only a handful translated into English – With an Unopened Umbrella is a welcome addition to Bruckstein’s increasingly grand posthumous legacy."
"If Wiesel was an educator of souls and minds, Bruckstein would be a keeper of stories, dreams and pains… endowed with a metaphysics of vernacular, quotidian, yet timeless experience.”
by Mika Provata-Carlone, Bookanista
"Set in Sighet, With an Unopened Umbrella in the Pouring Rain is a beautiful yet heart-breaking collection of stories, in which Bruckstein captures the essence of community, family and togetherness that Sighet once displayed, but that was utterly shattered by the Holocaust. However, while the war and the Holocaust loom over the entire collection, they are never explicitly described. Instead Bruckstein tells beautiful tales of Sighet’s humble families; he tells us about their relationships, their work and their daily lives."
Alice Banks, Riveting Review
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