In "The Coat of a Prince," the first novella in this collection, the coat which Grandfather copied from an English prince, with its absurd buckles and straps, travels from Poland to Australia and back again. Birstein unfolds stories within stories, revealing a fantastic tableau of a European Jewish family – their obsessions, feuds, superstitions and their own special logic. Their doom is approaching and the story cries with the presentation of grief for their world. All four novellas seem to ask how the remnants of European Jewry, its richness, depth and tragedy, are to be preserved in the present.
No one writing in Israel today can match Birstein for comic-grotesque power... For him, the vanished world of Europe can be rescued only by storytelling, memories, associations and imagination... The past becomes the present plot and the story takes place with a foot here and a foot there, in at least three places and three different times. In these bypaths of reality, Birstein dismantles the big questions and solutions of Jewish existence.
Critic Menahem Perry
English translation available (for publishers only)