Isaac Bashevis Singer, Shosha (1978)

Isaac Bashevis Singer, Shosha (1978) 251p.

Shosha is a novel by Nobel price winning auhor Isaac Bashevis Singer about the aspiring author Aaron Greidinger who lives in the Hasidic quarter of the Jewish neighborhood of Warsaw during the 1930s.

“I was an anachronism in every way, but I didn’t know it, just as I didn’t know that my friendship with Shosha [..] had anything to do with love.”

Aaron has many love affairs with women, but the only woman he can trust and truely loves is Shosha, his childhood friend. Shosha was struck by sleeping desease and since has barely grown and is mentally retarded. Aaron lived his childhood on Krochmalnastreet 10, and looses sight of Shosha as she moves from no. 10 to no. 7.

Death
Death is the cloud that hangs over the characters in Shosha. As a writer whose main medium is language, the book opens by explaining that Aaron was brought up on three dead languages: Hebrew, Aramaic and Yiddish.

Hitler is in power in Germany and is set to annihilate the Jews in Poland and Stalin rules with his deadly terror in Russia, and the only voluntary exit that many of the main characters in Shosha see for themselves is suicide. Although Aaron is offered the opportunity to leave the threat of Hitler, as others from Hasidic to Hedonist, he turns down this chance to escape a certain death and elects to stay in Poland.

Epilogue
The epilogue of Shosha is an abrupt fast-forwarding from before the outbreak of the Second Worldwar to the early fifties and thirteen years after the story ends in the last chapter. Aaron meets Haiml Chentshiner in Israel. The epilogue is a concise dialogue in which each recounts the death of their friends.

Characters

  • Tsutsik, is Aaron Griedinger’s nickname and literally means a little yapping puppy. In Yiddish this word, as well as some other words normally considered pejorative may be turned into endearments.
  • Shosha, daughter of the neighbors Bashele and Zelig
  • Teibele, Shosha’s sister
  • Dora, Aaron’s main lover before Shosha
  • Moishe, Aaron’s brother and rabbi
  • Betty Slonim, American actress who is married to Sam Dreimann an American millionaire who is her sugar-daddy
  • Morris Feitelzohn, friend and hedonist filosopher
  • Haiml, husband of Celia
  • Celia Chentshiner, wife of a friend and lover of Aaron and Feitelzohn
  • Tekla, non-Jewish maid at Aaron’s apartment

    References
    Sex, Torah, Revolution, Book review by Alan Lelchuk in New York Times of July 23, 1978

    Print Friendly, PDF & Email
  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.