NOSN (NATAN) ZABARE (December 27, 1908-February 19, 1975)
He was a prose author, born in the town of Rogatshev (Rahachow), Volhynia, Ukraine, into a family of tradesmen. He studied in religious elementary school, graduated from a Ukrainian school, and until 1931 worked in construction, later serving in the army in a radio battalion. During the years of the revolution, he moved to Kiev. In the early 1930s he was a government-supported research student at the Institute for Jewish Culture in the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences in Kiev. His literary activities began with a story entitled “A geshvir” (An ulcer) which was published in 1930 in the Kharkov journal Prolit (Proletarian literature). Two years later, his first book appeared in print, Radyo-roman (Radio novel), a work about the education of radioman in the Red Army, about the path of a young man to mastering the specialty of the radio as a profession. The young writer was attempting to find his own style, and he chose to recount his protagonists, using the form of a diary, on the backdrop of which was depicted the problem of a “triangle” that was “as old as the world” (a love-collision among two boys and a girl). His second novel was Nilovke, roman (Nilovke, a novel), an attempt to create his own “Tuneyadevke” [lit., “idlers’ town,” a fictitious place appearing in classical Yiddish fiction], a type of a renowned Jewish town in the years of Soviet industrialization. He continued this effort in the novel Fun land tsu land (From country to country) of 1938, in which the main protagonists bear the same names as in Mendele Moykher-Sforim’s Masoes benyomin hashlishi (The travels of Benjamin the Third): Benyomin and Senderl. Finally, there is his Der foter, roman (The father, a novel) of 1940 which completed his Nilovke cycle, in which converge virtually all of the lines of his earlier works and in which there emerges the past and the perspectives of Nilovke, the fate of its various generations—the parents and the children. Der foter was also an advance for the writer in the sense of his language and style.
With the outbreak of the Nazi-Soviet war, he was mobilized and took part in battles. After WWII he was with the Red Army in Germany and in contact with Jewish people in the British and American zones, rekindling his interest in things Jewish. At a meeting of the Jewish writers section of the Soviet Ukrainian writers’ union in Kiev, Zabare spoke about a publication that confronted Soviet Yiddish literature: “To explain to the people about the wonderful, historical feat accomplished by the Soviet Army which liberated Europe from the fascist yoke.” He added that this was “really the theme of my new book that I’m about to finish.”
He survived the years 1948-1952 during the extermination of Yiddish writers under Stalin, though he was arrested on May 13, 1950 and charged with handing American officials information about the state of Jewry in the Soviet Union and generally for directing Zionist and anti-Soviet propaganda. He was sentenced to ten years of deportation to a camp in the North. He was rehabilitated and returned from the gulag on April 27, 1956. He returned to activity in Kiev, where he lived and worked over the course of many years. An entirely new period opened up for him in his postwar writings. He participated in the war as a journalist and fighter (and also after the war, for a certain period of time, he wrote for a Berlin newspaper), and he published in a front newspaper and the German press a series of articles and reportage pieces about contemporary Russian literature, artists, and composers. Some of this material later was included in a special German collection (published in Berlin) about literature, music, theater, and art. The experience of his Berlin period was later reflected in his novel Haynt vert geboyrn a velt (Today a world is being born), which was dedicated to the last day of the war.
He once again began publishing in 1961 in Sovetish heymland (Soviet homeland): Haynt vert geboyrn a velt, 1965: 3 (pp. 3-88); A poshete mame (A simple mother), 1967: 9, 10, 11, in which he narrated the lives of Jewish heroes of the October Revolution; the historical story “Af gekreytste vegn” (On crossed roads), in which he described the literary circles of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (Lesya Ukrainka [1871-1913], Ivan Kotliarevsky [1769-1838], Mordechai Zev Feierberg [1874-1899], and Moyshe Olgin [1877-1939], among others). These historical novels and stories concerning the recent and distant past prepared the author for his final stage of creative writing, when he was writing novels of historical epics (also in Sovetish heymland): S’iz nokh groys der tog (The day is longer still), 1972: 9, 10; Unter der heyser zun fun provans (Under the hot sun of Provence), 1973: 9, 10; In mitn heln batog (In the middle of a bright day), 1975: 1, 2, 3; 1977: 7. All of these were united under the title Gilgl hakhoyzer, roman (Man’s fate, a novel). His fundamental idea consisted of sort of parallel fate between various epochs in general and Jewish history, a parallelism in which the attack of everything evil received, ultimately, “an inevitable historical defeat.” There should have been his fourth work in this cycle, but a heart attack wrenched the pen from his hand—and he died in Kiev.
His books include: Radyo-roman (Kharkov-Kiev, 1932), 220 pp.; Khevre (The gang), children’s stories (Minsk: Byelorussian State Publishers, 1933), 21 pp.; Nilovke, roman (Moscow: Emes, 1935), 109 pp.; Mentshn un tsaytn, noveln un fartsaykhenungen (Men and times, stories and jottings) (Kiev: Ukrainian State Publishers for National Minorities, 1935), 22 pp.; Fun land tsu land (Kiev: Ukrainian State Publishers for National Minorities, 1938), 300 pp.; Der foter, roman (Kiev: Ukrainian State Publishers for National Minorities, 1940), 518 pp.; Gilgl hakhoyzer, roman (Moscow: Sovetski pisatel, 1979), 469 pp.
Sources: Kh. Lutsker, in Shtern (Kharkov) 280 (1935); M. May, in Sovetishe literatur (Kiev) (June 1939), p. 107; L. Brovarnik, in Sovetishe literatur (June 1939), p. 131; M. Dublyet, in Shtern (Minsk) (July 1939); A. Kushnirov, in Naye prese (Paris) (July 27, 1945); A. Emkin, in Eynikeyt (Moscow) (June 26, 1947); N. Mayzil, Dos yidishe shafn un der yidisher arbeter in sovetn-farband (Jewish creation and the Jewish worker in the Soviet Union) (New York, 1959), see index.
[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 253; and Chaim Beider, Leksikon fun yidishe shrayber in ratn-farband (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers in the Soviet Union), ed. Boris Sandler and Gennady Estraikh (New York: Congress for Jewish Culture, Inc., 2011), pp. 148-49.]