Over the past few weeks, American newspapers have been reporting the terrible destruction that Russian armies have been inflicting on Mykolaiv (in Russian, Nikolaev), a town close to Odessa where the great Russian Jewish writer Isaac Babel spent the first ten years of his life. Conquest of Mykolaiv would open the way to Odessa itself (which, as I write this, is being bombarded from the sea), a city with a character of its own that has entered into folklore, literature, and the popular imagination. Babel’s evocation of the city’s spirit remains the most famous and is generally admired almost as much as his famous Red Cavalry stories.
Isaac Babel's Odessa Tricksters
The great Jewish writer evoked a city—now under threat from Russia’s armies—with a character of its own that has entered into folklore, literature, and the popular imagination.