Tuesday 19 February 2019


GEDALYE KOSOY (1903-1991)

            He was prose author, born in Khashtshevate (Khoshchevatoye), Podolia, Ukraine, into a poor family. At age eleven he was apprenticed to a confectioner. In 1920, during the Soviet civil war, at age seventeen he emigrated to the United States, and there he developed an inclination for literary work; he even ventured to show his first literary efforts to Morris Winchevsky, the “grandfather of proletarian literature.” These were his only successful efforts and no more. He later wrote up and published a memoir of this meeting. Unhappy on that side of the ocean, he returned in early 1924 and settled in the Jewish colony of “Nit gedayget” (No worries) near Odessa and took part in the collectivization of agriculture. At the time his first publications—stories and sketches—appeared in the press. He debuted in print with a story in 1935 and had another in Sovetishe literatur (Soviet literature) (Kiev) 7 (1939). When Germany attacked the Soviet Union, he volunteered to join the Red Army to fight. After the war he settled in Vinnytsa, Ukraine, and worked as a bookdealer. He had a story published in the almanac Shtern (Star) (Kiev) 2 (1948). Like many other Yiddish writers, he tried to switch to Ukrainian and got a local publisher to bring out a collection of his stories. He returned to Yiddish when Sovetish heymland (Soviet homeland) launched in Moscow. The protagonists of Kosoy’s stories were chiefly old men, pensioners, who recount by themselves their difficult lives, though they remain optimistic even while fate has not spared them. In book form: In yorn arum (Years later), a supplement to Sovetish heymland 12 (1985) and (Moscow: Sovetski pisatel, 1985), 63 pp.

Source: Sovetish heymland (Moscow) 11 (1983).

Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), cols. 475, 551; 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. 320-21.

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