Leapfrog Press. 186 pages. Trade Paperback $16.95.
The six stories in this collection explore the greenhorn experience in the context of Jewish immigration to the United States, particularly to New York City, from the turn of the twentieth century through the early years of the Great Depression. Slotkin has based his tales on interviews he held with family members who came to the United States from Russia and Poland between 1900 and 1921.
Through his fictional retellings, Slotkin demonstrates how historical markers shaped and defined the particular experience of immigrants. In 1905, Jews escaped the latest outbursts of violent antisemitism in Russia and Poland, and made their way to what many believed would be the promised land. The end of World War II brought awareness of the Holocaust, which many new immigrants had managed to escape. The founding of the modern Jewish State was another milestone: a pinnacle of Jewish pride.
Slotkin’s collection also explores family dynamics, and the generational gaps that complicate them. While youngsters often adapt and assimilate with ease in these stories, older immigrants are more likely to have a difficult time, some never finding true comfort in the nation or neighborhood in which they now live — they never stop being greenhorns. One man, back in “the other side” a prominent wheat broker, cannot reconstruct his success in his new environment: he has lost too much status, too much context for the meaning of his life. He becomes a recluse. Others find ways to fit in, grasping when possible the helping hand of a cousin already established or a friendly neighbor. . . .
To read the entire review, as it appears on the Jewish Book Council website, click here: Greenhorns