Today, Yiddish is often regarded as part of the Jewish past, naturally abandoned in the process of becoming American. In Recovering 'Yiddishland' Bachman challenges this view by taking readers to “Yiddishland” in New York, from the 1890s through the 1930s, and spotlighting “threshold” texts--stories and poems written by immigrants that tell of ambivalence and resistance to Americanization. The author translates for the first time a trove of Yiddish poems about African Americans and reveals the writers' uneasy confrontation with their passage as Jews into white America. She also translates selections from the modernist poet, Mikhl Likht, whose simultaneous embrace of American literature and resistance to assimilating into English marked him as the supreme "threshold" poet. Throughout, Bachman combines literary analysis with her own experiences as "the Yiddish student," encountering the language of her grandparents.
"Bachman weaves colorful threads of personal, often poetic, reflection into her scholarly analysis. As she shares her close readings, we see her creating and inhabiting a 'Yiddishland' of her own. The literary figures she studies become her restlesss soulmates as she comes to understand that even in its heyday, "'Yiddishland' was always 'a place neither home nor exile.' So it is for Bachman herself—and for all of us who seek to connect ourselves to that once-vibrant world."
"This is a thoroughly researched, lucidly argued work… The importance of Bachman's book lies in its singularity, its insistence on providing a personal and idiosyncratic view of a crucial but sprawling field--the literary production of the Yiddish-speaking, Americanizing immigrant writers."