About On the Landing


On the Landing

Stories by Yenta Mash
Translated by Ellen Cassedy
With an afterword co-authored by Jessica Kirzane

Northern Illinois University Press, 2018

A Yiddish Book Center Translation

Finalist, 2018 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Award

Yenta Mash traces an arc across upheavals and regime changes, and across the phases of a woman’s life. Her characters are often in transit, poised “on the landing” on their way to or from somewhere else.

On the Landing opens by inviting us to join a woman making her way through her ruined hometown in southeastern Europe, recalling the colorful customs of yesteryear—and the night when everything changed. We then accompany women prisoners into the fearsome Soviet gulag in Siberia.  We see how the Jewish community rebuilds itself in postwar Soviet Moldova.  We join refugees struggling to find their place in Israel, where a late-life romance brings a blossoming of joy.

Drawing on a lifetime of repeated uprooting, Mash offers an intimate perch from which to explore little-known corners of the 20th and early 21st centuries. She makes a major contribution to the literature of immigration and resilience, adding her voice to those of Jhumpa Lahiri, W. G. Sebald, André Aciman, and Viet Thanh Nguyen. Available for the first time in English in Ellen Cassedy’s translation, her work is urgently relevant today as displaced people seek refuge across the globe.

Read a Story Online:

“Bread” in Jewish Currents

“Resting Place” in B O D Y

“On the Landing” in Pakn Treger

“Ingathering of Exiles” in Words Without Borders

“The Second Time Around” in JewishFiction.net

“A Seder in the Taiga” in Pakn Treger

Praise for On the Landing:

Each story is a gem….Mash’s narrative skill is quietly astonishing.”
— Jewish Book Council

A transcendent achievement, a landmark book.” — C.M. Mayo

“Wry, earthy, shrewdly observant.  Highly recommended.” — Association of Jewish Libraries Reviews

“Yenta Mash has left us rich images and complex responses to human betrayal and God’s indifference… compelling and memorable.” — Irena Klepfisz

“Mash’s collection keeps us alert to the riches to be discovered…showing us the many worlds in which Yiddish thrived and suffered in the twentieth century.” — In Geveb

Small gems.” — Jweekly.com

“…an intensely personal tribute.” — Sibirica: Interdisciplinary Journal of Siberian Studies

Ellen Cassedy is one of the forces behind this new movement to collect and translate Yiddish women’s literature.” — Los Angeles Review of Books

“A moving collection of stories by an inspiring survivor who brings humanity to underrepresented history.” — Ruta Sepetys, author of Between Shades of Gray

Yenta Mash has left us rich images and complex responses to human betrayal and God’s indifference in stories that are compelling and memorable.”— Irena Klepfisz, author of A Few Words in the Mother Tongue

“Ellen Cassedy’s translation of short stories by Yenta Mash gives voice to a near-forgotten writer and sheds light on a part of the Jewish people whose story and culture has been almost erased from the historical record…. Cassedy’s translations are crafted with a keen attention to register and tone, elegantly rendering Mash’s matter-of-fact style to evoke tragedy, dislocation, and perseverance. ” — Sebastian Schulman, executive director, KlezKanada

“Yenta Mash’s stories are a must—a reminder that, through the persecutions in the Russian Pale, ‘something very important has been lost,’ but also that something strong survives.” — Foreword Reviews

“I urge you to have a look at these stories.  They will change the way you see life.” — Reviews by Amos Lassen 

Dor ayn, dor oys, der emes blaybt! (From one generation to the next, the truth will out!) — Yiddish Branzhe

An important contribution…much appreciated.” — Yiddish Forverts

About Yenta Mash

Yenta Mash (1922–2013) was born and raised in Bessarabia in southeastern Europe. She survived Siberian exile, then settled in Chisinau, Moldova, before immigrating to Israel. Her prize-winning fiction, collected in four volumes in the original Yiddish, draws on her life, spanning continents, regime changes, and historical eras.


Celebrating Yiddish Women Writers

Take a look at this rich compilation of poetry and fiction by women writing in Yiddish, highlights of from the collections of the Yiddish Book Center. Enjoy work by writers (including Yenta Mash) in the original, in translation, in audio presentations — and read what scholars and others have to say about them.