• The Slaughterman's Daughter

  • A Novel
  • By: Yaniv Iczkovits
  • Narrated by: Tovah Feldshuh
  • Length: 17 hrs and 53 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (42 ratings)

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The Slaughterman's Daughter  By  cover art

The Slaughterman's Daughter

By: Yaniv Iczkovits
Narrated by: Tovah Feldshuh
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Publisher's Summary

"If the Coen brothers ever ventured beyond the United States for their films, they would find ample material in this novel." (The New York Times Book Review)

"Occasionally a book comes along so fresh, strange, and original that it seems peerless, utterly unprecedented. This is one of those books." (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)

Winner of the 2021 Wingate Literary Prize

Finalist for the 2021 National Jewish Book Awards, "Book Club Award"

An irresistible, picaresque tale of two Jewish sisters in late-19th-century Russia, The Slaughterman’s Daughter is filled with “boundless imagination and a vibrant style” (David Grossman).

With her reputation as a vilde chaya (wild animal), Fanny Keismann isn’t like the other women in her shtetl in the Pale of Settlement - certainly not her obedient and anxiety-ridden sister, Mende, whose “philosopher” of a husband, Zvi-Meir, has run off to Minsk, abandoning her and their two children. 

As a young girl, Fanny felt an inexorable pull toward her father’s profession of ritual slaughterer and, under his reluctant guidance, became a master with a knife. And though she long ago gave up that unsuitable profession - she’s now the wife of a cheesemaker and a mother of five - Fanny still keeps the knife tied to her right leg. Which might come in handy when, heedless of the dangers facing a Jewish woman traveling alone in czarist Russia, she sets off to track down Zvi-Meir and bring him home, with the help of the mute and mysterious ferryman Zizek Breshov, an ex-soldier with his own sensational past. 

Yaniv Iczkovits spins a family drama into a far-reaching comedy of errors that will pit the czar’s army against the Russian secret police and threaten the very foundations of the Russian Empire. The Slaughterman’s Daughter is a rollicking and unforgettable work of fiction. 

©2021 Yaniv Iczkovits (P)2021 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

Kirkus Reviews "10 Fiction Books to Look for in 2021"

Thrillist "30 Books We Can't Wait to Read in 2021"

“Occasionally a book comes along so fresh, strange, and original that it seems peerless, utterly unprecedented. This is one of those books. You might hear traces of Gogol or Isaac Babel in Iczkovits’ voice, but they’re only traces.... Iczkovits is a superb talent, and this novel is a resounding success. As witty as it is wise, [The Slaughterman’s Daughter] is a profoundly moving caper through the Russian empire.” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)

“Approaches history in a fabulist style reminiscent of Sholem Aleichem and his disciples.... The folktale tradition evoked in the storytelling has an estimable history, but perhaps even more old-fashioned is this novel’s length and leisurely tempo...I appreciated the pace.... Today it would be a quick drive to Minsk; once upon a time the trip was the stuff of epics.” (Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal)

"Offbeat, picaresque...full of invention and surprises. Stories nest inside stories, like Russian dolls. Iczkovits mixes real history, fable, and the products of his imagination into an intoxicating, thoroughly enjoyable brew." (Nick Rennison, The Sunday Times, London) 

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What listeners say about The Slaughterman's Daughter

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  • Overall
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    4 out of 5 stars

The narration - why?????

Finally returned this book because I could no longer stand to listen to the narrator using heavily accented English for all characters throughout. Russian, Polish and Yiddish accents were incredibly distracting and terribly grating. I made it halfway through because the story seems very compelling. The writing is evocative and draws you in - or it would have if it hadn’t been for the narration. I regret not having returned it much sooner, since that would have made it easier to just go to the book in print.
After this experience I would really welcome an ‘accent warning’ so I could stay clear of a book’s narrated version.

2 people found this helpful

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Way too long

The story is a good story but needs a lot of editing. The narrator overdoes the accents so much I stopped listening and read the book instead.

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Evocative of a time long gone

I loved this book. Perhaps because of my Eastern European/Jewish roots, it resonated with me deeply. Part satire and caricature, part a depiction of a culture destroyed by war and persecution, the story was captivating. At times it was laugh out loud funny and at others full of pathos with the many varied and colorful characters lacking in opportunity and fulfillment. The accented narration was perfect for the story and made it come alive, capturing the humor and the culture.

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quite an imagination so what is the moral?

found narrator annoying, why use galut Jewish accent? they spoke in Polish, Russian, Yiddish. at times funny, at times suspense, but do not understand what they learned from the ordeal! so much agony!! Good authentic characters!

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Historical fiction at it's best

Historical fiction at it's best ! An amazing read, you are transported to the late 1890's and are totally immersed in the adventure. I did not want this story to end. The plot, characters, setting, humor hit the mark. Extremely difficult in a translation, Orr Scharf did an amazing job. Tovah Feldshuh was an excellent narrator. She gave every single character a personality.
I hope that Yaniv Iczkovits has a sequel in the works or at the very least another novel to be published soon.

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Realistic or touristic?

This a a symbolic novel that starts slowly but gains momentum, so I recommend you stick with it. Why the actress chooses to recite the dialogue in yinglish , English with what she imagines a Yiddish speaker speaking in English who didn’t know better, would sound like, is beyond me. Yinglish is an affectation for comic effect, this is a dramatic book.

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Amazing story, amazing read

Loved it: unique, original and funny!!! Fanny is an incredible protagonist. And Zizek broke my heart.