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A PRAYER AFTER MIDNIGHT
By: ICZKOVITS, Yaniv
When Fanny Keismann turns ten, her father, Grodno’s ritual slaughterer, gives her a knife, and she soon develops a talent for her father’s trade. But in 19th century Russia, ritual slaughter does not befit a wife and mother, so when it comes time to raise a family, Fanny abandons her work and devotes herself to raising her five children.
When Fanny’s older sister’s husband disappears, Fanny leaves her own family and sets out for the great city of Minsk in search of her wayward brother-in-law. She is accompanied by Zizek Bershov, who is either an idiot or a rogue. Zizek was impressed into the Tsar’s army as a boy, and since he returned home he has refused to speak. Fanny and Zizek are soon accosted by a band of highway robbers. Fanny dispatches the three of brigands with her ritual slaughtering knife, and then flees with Zizek. The killings attract the attention of Piotr Novack, the head of the secret police, who, believing that the crime scene is part of a plot to incite a revolt against the Tsar, begins a pursuit of the pair of fugitives.
Fanny’s initial mission to help her sister turns into a misadventure that manages to threaten the foundations of the Russian Empire. What began as a family matter in Motole, a peripheral Jewish settlement, breaks the bounds of the shtetl, pits the police against the army, and upsets the political and social order.
In this astounding and sweeping novel, Yaniv Iczkovits manages to evoke traditional Russian shtetl life and create a modern heroine in its midst. Hailed as “tempestuous, daring and fascinating,” Tikkun is full of drama and humor. It is an entertaining, wildly inventive and insightful story.
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