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Felzenbaum, Michael

FELZENBAUM, MICHAEL

FELZENBAUM, MICHAEL (Mikhoel ; 1951– ), Yiddish writer. Born in Vassilkoe (Ukraine), Felzenbaum studied drama in Leningrad (1968–74) and then founded the Yiddish Cultural Society in Belz, where he was active in the theater and the Pedagogical Institute (1974–88). In 1991 he immigrated to Israel. As co-founder and later editor of the annual Naye Vegn (1992), executive director of the Yiddish Culture Center in Tel Aviv, and head of the H. Leyvik Publishing House, he won the Dovid Hofshteyn Prize (1999) for his multifaceted and socially provocative work. His dramatic and narrative œuvre, which unites the Jewish, modern Yiddish, and European and American literary traditions, is marked by a postmodern, "post-Yid-dish" character. An antithetical process operates in his improvised intertextual world that strives toward primordial chaos, where nothing begins at the beginning, but everything is revealed in its grotesque and absurd dimensions. Traditional myths and fairy tales function as empty, anachronistic vessels without creative-metaphorical significance in the post-Holocaust world. While the prose works display earthy and mordant qualities, his poems exhibit a sensitivity and thoroughly developed spontaneity characteristic of folk songs. His works appeared in the most important Yiddish literary journals; his book publications are Es Kumt der Tog ("Day Arrives," 1992), A Libe Regn ("Rain of Love," 1994), Der Nakht-Malekh ("Angel of the Night," 1997), Un Itst Ikh Bin Dayn Nign ("And Now I Am Your Melody," 1998), and Shabesdike Shvebelekh ("Sabath Matches," 2003).

bibliography:

A. Starck, "Interview with Mikhoel Felsenbaum," in: The Mendele Review (Feb. 15, 2004); idem, "A Critical Study of Mikhoel Felsenbaum's 'Shabesdike shvebelekh,'" ibid. (shakti.trincoll.edu/~mendele/tmrarc.htm); idem, "Shabesdike Shvebelekh: A Postmodernist Novel by Mikhoel Felsenbaum," in: J. Sherman (ed.), Yiddish after the Holocaust (2004), 300–18; V. Tchernin, in: Shabes-dike Shvebelekh (2003), 9–12.

[Astrid Starck (2nd ed.)]

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