Skip to main content
US Macmillan Tradebooks for Courses

Shadows on the Hudson

A Novel

Isaac Bashevis Singer; Translated by Joseph Sherman

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Shadows on the Hudson Download image

ISBN10: 0374531226
ISBN13: 9780374531225

Trade Paperback

560 Pages



Request Desk Copy
Request Exam Copy


Sign up to receive information about new books, author events, and special offers.

Sign up now

Set in New York City in the late 1940s, Shadows on the Hudson traces the intertwined lives of a circle of prosperous Jewish refugees. From gloomy Upper West Side apartments to the pastel Yiddish resorts of Miami, Singer covers the territory of American Jewry in the aftermath of the Holocaust. At the center of the story is Boris Makaver, a pious, wealthy businessman whose greatest trial is his unstable daughter, Anna. It is Anna who sets off a chain of events that wholly disrupts the lives of the close-knit community as each refugee struggles to reconcile the horrific past with the difficult present. Singer explores both the nature of faith and the nature of love in the tremulous time after the Holocaust.


Praise for Shadows on the Hudson

"This book, translated by Joseph Sherman with skillful editing by Jane Bobko and Robert Giroux, is a significant event, a major addition to the English-language Singer oeuvre. It is a startling, piercing work of fiction . . . not merely because Shadows on the Hudson is darker than just about any of Singer's other works, more heavily freighted with bitterness and anguish. Despite many passages of caustic humor, this novel is Singer speaking in an unfamiliar raw and brutal voice . . . the new book's claim on the status of masterpiece stems from its largeness, the depth and complexity of its exorbitantly vivid, intelligent characters and from Singer's Dostoyevskian skill at weaving into a seamless tapestry various disorderly responses to the savagery of life . . . Singer's uncanny knack for evoking a kind of raucous human comedy around the most serious moral and intellectual questions has never been on better display, in a book whose narrative momentum is unstoppable from the very first pages."—Richard Bernstein, The New York Times

"Rarely does a posthumous publication add much to a writer's stature, but Shadows on the Hudson is Singer at his best. Lovers of Singer will feel that they have received a great and unexpected gift . . . In its size, scope, and its moral intensity, it ranks among his most important works."—The New Republic

"Singer works a magical mixture of laughter and pity . . . The book is entertaining, somber, wrenching and a class page-turner all at once."—Judith Dunford, Chicago Sun-Times

"Powerful, sprawling, inbred, confused, this is a rich and rewarding novel . . . it contains that unique Bashevis Singer mixture of European roots, prayer, philosophy, politics, [and] the perpetual humor of the unexpected, together with an awful God who cannot possibly care."—Bruce Arnold, The Washington Times

"[Shadows on the Hudson] re-imagines a lost world; it tries to come to grips with the Holocaust; it is authentically Jewish; it has lots of stories . . . The 'shadows' in Shadows on the Hudson are both its living characters and their dead. 'Death whistled along the streets, but the living neither knew nor cared.' They do not care because the omnipresence of eternity has been eclipsed by the id's eternal present . . . In Singer's uncanny first novel, Satan in Goray, he disturbingly placed a bestial 17th-century pogrom alongside the equally fierce subconscious desires of those who survived it. Similarly, in Shadows on the Hudson, the shadow of the Holocaust makes every human quest for self-gratification appear murderous and corrupt."—Lee Siegel, The New York Times Book Review

"Originally published serially in Yiddish in The Forward, this novel by Nobel Prize laureate Singer relates the lives of Jewish refugees in New York City just after World War II. Wealthy and religious Boris Makaver is challenged by the scandal created when his daughter Anna abandons her second husband, an unemployed lawyer, for a friend of the family, Grein. The latter is torn by his inability to resist the romantic demands of three women (his wife, his long-time mistress, and Anna) and his attempts to return to the religious faith of his father. The lingering effects of the losses in the Holocaust and the influence of communism and godlessness combine with staged seances and the reappearance of Anna's unsavory first husband to provide much spiritual searching."—Ann Irvine, Silver Spring Library, Maryland, Library Journal

Reviews from Goodreads