Books: Lost World

WANDERING STAR (314 pp.)—Sholom Alelchem—Crown ($3).

Some of the best modern writers have been self-conscious artists, working for the admiration of small followings and often requiring cabalistic analysis before they could be fully understood. Not, however, Sholom Aleichem, the Ukraine-born Yiddish humorist who died in The Bronx 36 years ago. Sholom Aleichem (real name: Solomon Rabinowitz) was a genuine folk artist. Between himself and his Yiddish public throughout the world there was an instinctive understanding; they could grasp his twists of idiom, his slightest reference to a Torah phrase or a ghetto custom.

In an effort to bring him to a wider audience,...

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