After Anatevka: A Novel Inspired by Fiddler on the Roof

Written by Alexandra Silber
Review by Viviane Crystal

Who can forget the story and music of the Broadway hit Fiddler on the Roof? Alexandra Silber has taken on the formidable task of continuing the story of two children from Tevye and Golde’s family. This phenomenal story carries the light tone of the earlier musical and the vacillating light and dark moods of Russian literature, all sensitively balanced with perfect timing.

The majority of the novel concerns the second eldest daughter, Hodel, who follows Perchik, a Russian Communist, to the vast, frozen hinterlands of Siberia after her family is forced to flee Russia in 1905. But before she and Perchik can live in loving bliss amidst the most acute possible suffering, Hodel spends a year in a Russian prison, where unspeakable things happen to her. This is the most amazing portion, as amidst terrible doubt and darkness, she recalls the words and mood of her eldest sister, who daily lived out her joy and faithfulness to Elohim and the traditions passed down for countless generations. It does not matter what circumstances buffet Hodel; that faith and joy in thinking about the small moments of life keep her sane and light-hearted, even after the numbness has passed over possibly losing Perchik. We then meet various fellow prisoners in Perchik’s camp and witness their madness, sanity, appreciation of beautiful music, and most of all their kindness to each other, ironic indeed because of the total lack of same from their captors.

This is a gorgeous, captivating story that truly deserves the name of great historical fiction. Alexandra Silber is notably knowledgeable about her topic, but most of all inserts the “Russian soul” into it that earns it the hallmark of being called classic literature. Extraordinary!