The Lit List: The Shtetl Book

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Name: The Shtetl Book

Best Features: Oral Accounts, Various Photographs/ Other Visuals, Easy Read

Possible Pitfalls: Inconsistency, Lack of Storyline

Overall Rating: ♥♥♥ [3/5]

Discussion: This book was a bit of a tough one to get through. It was assigned for a Modern Hebrew Literature Class I’m currently taking at university. It’s incredibly interesting and goes through various oral accounts of those living within a shtetl (small Jewish community) from 1800-1915. You learn about various stories and folktales that were the basis for the culture of the people there. By doing so, you are also able to get a feel of what other shtetls during that time period were like as well. Unfortunately, because it is entirely composed of oral accounts from a large variety of different people, the consistency and congruency of the novel kind of fall short. You may be left wondering from time to time, is this the same story but minorly different details? Is there even a story to follow? Overall I would recommend this book if you are interested in this topic, but perhaps not for a casual reading.

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