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Wandering Stars

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3.89  ·  Rating Details ·  175 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
The first complete translation of an epic love story by the creator of Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof

Great Yiddish humorist Sholem Aleichem's Wandering Stars, is a sprawling love story spanning ten years and two continents, and set in the colorful world of the Yiddish theater.

In a Russian shtetl at the end of the nineteenth century, Reisel, daughter of a poor cantor, and Lei
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Published by Phoenix Audio (first published 1909)
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(showing 1-30)
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Elijah Spector
At no other production will you witness so many tears shed on the stage over the plight of desolate widows and miserable orphans, over lost children and butchered babies, over Jewish daughters murdered and Jewish wives dishonored in bestial pogroms. And the rib-tickling humor, laughter, and Jewish wit heard on our stage cannot be beat.
- An ad for a fictitious Yiddish-American play in Sholem Aleichem’s Wandering Stars, page 280.

The writing of Sholem Aleichem is a lot like klezmer music. Not just
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Nakhshik Tovmasyan
great!!!!!!one of the best books ever!!!!!1
Susann
Jan 14, 2012 Susann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: idlewild
In an excellent translation from Yiddish, this story follows early 20th century Yiddish theatre performers as they traverse Europe and eventually arrive in New York City. Although the focus is on runaways Leibel/Leo and Reizel/Rosa who leave their village of Holeneshti to join the troupe, the book comes alive with the often hilarious secondary characters.

Originally serialized in a newspaper, the book's sprawling style doesn't quite suit my impatient reading nature, but I think the characters an
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Yuri Kruman
Oct 19, 2013 Yuri Kruman rated it it was amazing
Sholem Aleichem at his most expansive, clever and humorous. His weaving of Old World sensibilities with New World pragmatism through the lenses of love magnified by distance and time, through the ambition of stern fathers and the small-town idealization well into adulthood, he manages to capture something elusive and mysterious - the ethos of a colorful and fascinating era long gone and largely destroyed. In the same breath, he manages to trace the deeply ingrained motivations, delusions and sin ...more
david
Nov 07, 2014 david rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is an old story and it has been done many times before. In my estimation, S.A. does it better than most.
Dee
Sep 25, 2016 Dee rated it really liked it
strangely intriguing wandering story.
Lorri

What an amazing novel, and what an incredible story! Wandering Stars, by Sholem Aleichem, and translated from the Yiddish by Aliza Shevirn, is a journey into Yiddish Theater unlike anything you have read on the subject. Jews are known as wanderers, and Aleichem’s novel not only evokes that theme, but also infuses the story with characters-turned actors straight from Holeneshti, a Russian shtetl, who become stars in their own right, shining brightly on stage.

Reisel is the daughter of a cantor, a
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Irving
Nov 20, 2013 Irving added it
ÇLEAH AND LEIBEL VISIT A YIDDISH THEATER IN A SHETAL AND ATTEND SEVERAL PERFORMANCES. THE ARE VERY YOUNG AND FALL IN LOVE. ALTHOUGH ONLY 13 AND 15 THEY FEEL THE ARE MEANT FOR EACH OTHER. THEY EACH JOIN A SEPARATE THEATRICAL GROUP AND ARE SEPARATED FOR MANY YEARS. EACH HAS SUCCESS AND FAME. THERE ARE SEVERAL INTERTWINING LIVE STORIES AND A HOST OF CHARACTERS BOTH MEN AND WOMEN. A GOOD STORYTELLER.

Merged review:

LEAH AND LEIBEL VISIT A YIDDISH THEATER IN A SHETAL AND ATTEND SEVERAL PERFORMANCES. T
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Saraes
Sep 05, 2011 Saraes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just finished this book last night. It had been sitting on my shelf for a few months now and something said, "Sara, read this book NOW." I totally understand Reizel's character, I feel like a Gypsy myself, but the ending just broke my heart! I read the book in four days, which is fast for me these days with everything I have going on, but Aleichem's writing is top notch and hilarious at times that even when the book seems slow, it's still moving fast. I think everyone should read this book as ...more
Aryeh
Dec 20, 2014 Aryeh rated it really liked it
Oh SA, why you gotta do this to me again?! So sucked into this story only to realize all the waxing poetic and seeming perfect ending was just too good to be true (or rather, it was perfect until you wrecked it in the epilogue!), and that, as you say "apparently there is no happiness here on earth. There is only the striving toward happiness. Happiness itself is no more than a dream, a fantasy…This is the way it has been til now, and this is the way it will always be." This book is a comedy, a t ...more
Stephen
Nov 17, 2008 Stephen rated it it was amazing
On the 150th anniversary of Sholem Aleichem’s birth, Wandering Stars has been published in English for the very first time. Yiddish is notoriously under-translated and this book, by the grandfather of Yiddish lit, is proof that there are a lot of gems out there yet to be represented. A love story taking place in the theater, Wandering Stars reminds in scope and in amplitude of the classics of Russian fiction written by Aleichem’s contemporaries such as Tolstoy, Dosteovski. If you are familiar wi ...more
Lynne
Feb 13, 2012 Lynne rated it really liked it
Shelves: yiddish-theater
This is such a great book. The translators seem to have done a great job. The nuances of the original Yiddish remain true in its delivery in English. I can only imagine Tevye as the narrator of this story. Oy! Because my husband's great grandfather was a very successful Yiddish theater actor at the same time as this book was written, it is particularly resonant with me. Sholem Aleichem's description of immigrants coming to America, and his observations of "This American Life" are as applicable t ...more
Pbwritr
May 07, 2009 Pbwritr rated it really liked it
A really great book that transports the reader to another world. The author wrote Fiddler on the Roof, and this book is 150 years old, newly translated. Fascinating look at the 19th century, Eastern Europe, the Jewish world, and the acting world. Leibel and Reizel both leave their shetl on the same night with a visiting troupe, only to be split up immediately and yearning for each other for years. The book moves to London and America, with indelible characters, particularly the successive stage ...more
Adrie
Aug 21, 2011 Adrie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Though it can occasionally seem a bit slow this novel is worth reading. It is something beautiful and heartbreaking. One wishes with every page to see the lovers reunited, knowing that their separate lives are great but together they could be perfect. There is so much sadness and joy as these characters travel from country to country, losing old friends and gaining new and learning to live life.
Katherine
Jul 17, 2012 Katherine rated it it was amazing
Shelves: yarm-lit-crit
as a former theatre kid, i can attest to the reality of the inevitability of incestuous romantic entanglements. this captures it perfectly, even made me a little nostalgic. im glad to know theatre people have been crazy for a while now. aleichem is the world's best storyteller, even better than singer. i heart him so much.this is def my fave book of his .
Jeanne
Nov 20, 2011 Jeanne rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this book about 2 star-crossed Jewish lovers at the end of the 19th century. The book tells of how a Yiddish theatre troupe came to town and how the star-crossed lovers left with the troupe and their eventual show-biz success. It's told in a rambling, narrative style that just doesn't work for me.
Linda
Mar 11, 2009 Linda rated it really liked it
My mother recommended this highly. This is a new edition/translation of the original work, published in honor of what would be Sholom Aleichem's 150th birthday. It has a forward by Tony-award-winning playwright Tony Kushner.

The story has to do with two lovers who become actors in New York's Yiddish theater around the turn of the last century.
Jon
Oct 21, 2009 Jon rated it really liked it
There's a reason Sholem Aleichem is known as the greatest Yiddish writer of all time. Once you get into this book, its humor, compassion and warmth will satisfy you like only your Bubby's kugel cooking can.
Bobbi
Nov 02, 2014 Bobbi added it
Shelves: did-not-finish
I read about half way through this book. It was humorous and I enjoyed it but the jokes were the same over and over. The plot was so slow in getting anywhere, so I finally put it down. I don't have the staying power I used to have. I think his shorter writings would be better.
Aaron
Aug 13, 2009 Aaron rated it it was amazing
A romp of a serialized novel. Two shtetl kids, sweethearts, one the son of a rich man, one the daughter of the poor cantor, run off with a traveling theater. Separated, they become stars of the stage, hoping to reunite once more. "Stars don't fall, they wander."
Kelly
Mar 29, 2012 Kelly rated it did not like it
This book moved in far too slow and rambling a manner for me to be captivated by. I had o quit about 3/4 of the way through, which is rare for me. I just didn't particularly care about any of the characters or the resolution of the tale.
Mikkee
Sep 07, 2009 Mikkee rated it liked it
This was a translation, and I think that translations are hard because some essence is lost when you don't read a work in its original language. The story was well-written and very Yiddish. I felt like the book took me through so much and let me down with the ending.
mark
Mar 22, 2010 mark rated it it was amazing
A romantic novel, set internationally on the Yiddish stage at the turn of the 20th century. This is a sprawling, imperfect work, but full of delights in strange corners.
A.M.
Aug 29, 2014 A.M. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A very entertaining read, but the ending ... Oy vey!
Animat
Jan 19, 2010 Animat rated it it was amazing
Can I give it 6 stars? This book made me cry my eyes out for 2 days straight...
Colin
Mar 17, 2010 Colin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, theater
3.5 stars on this one--moved fast, funny, lots of scheming and intrigue. I was a bit dissatisfied with the ending though.
Alisa
May 05, 2012 Alisa rated it it was amazing
Really good book even though some minor things confused me and slight disappointment of how it ended. I still really liked the book and enjoyed reading it.
Jessica Feinstein
Got a little bit bored towards the end - stopped caring about Rosa and Leo!
Valerie
Aug 06, 2011 Valerie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, 2013, romanovs-russia
I love Sholem Aleichem's writing style. Love.
Fran
Fran rated it it was ok
May 06, 2009
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Jewish writer, Sholem Rabinovich (1859-1916), who wrote under the pen name of Sholem Aleichem (שלום עליכם, Hebrew for "peace be upon you").

From 1883 on, Sholem Aleichem produced over forty volumes in Yiddish, thereby becoming a central figure in Yiddish literature by 1890.

Sholem Aleichem's narratives were notable for the naturalness of his characters' speech and the accuracy of his descriptions o
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