“A unique work of art” that captures “the experiences of an important generation of Russian Jews. . . . and an important document of its time.” —Gabriella Safran, author of Wandering Soul: The Dybbuk’s Creator, S. An-Sky
S. An-Sky’s novel dramatizes the dilemmas of Jewish young people in late Tsarist Russia as they strive to throw off their traditional religious upbringing to adopt a secular and modern identity. The action unfolds in the town of M. in the Pale of Settlement, where an engaging cast of characters wrestles with cultural and social issues. Their exploits culminate in helping a young Jewish woman evade an arranged marriage and a young Russian woman leave home so she can pursue her studies at a European university. This startling novel reveals the tensions and triumphs of coming of age in a revolutionary time.
“An-Sky brilliantly captures a week in the life of young Jewish intellectuals fleeing their tiny villages to find the possibility of personal growth in larger towns where the enlightenment has begun to work its way.” —Jewish Book Council
“Michael R. Katz’s translation renders another Russian literary gem into fluid and lively English. . . . The publication of Pioneers in English . . . appears at an auspicious moment, for readers today may be more receptive than ever to narratives that convey the richness, complexity, and diversity of Jewish life in times of dynamic and decisive change.” —Marginalia