The North of God
Here in a place dedicated to the manufacture of fear—a place that one ghoul of a Rebbe declared was located to the North of God, where his jurisdicition no longer held sway—Velvl found himself developing a certain resistance.
Through numerous books and stories, Steve Stern has become known for his fantastical (and often wildly comic) stories based on yiddish folklore—Harold Bloom has called him "a throwback to the Yiddish sublime." But with this novella, Stern matches his reverential understanding of that ancient story-telling's power against something he's never written about before: the Holocaust.
The result is a mesmerizing tour-de-force: In a boxcar crammed with Jews headed to a concentration camp, one man attempts to summon up a story vital enough to displace the horror.
The story that comes out is ultimately a swirling, sweeping saga about the stirring obstinacy of the human spirit. And by confronting the ultimate horror with the mythology he has long celebrated, it may also be the crowning achievement of Stern's career.