Eli Mandel's Family Architecture: Building a House of Words on the Prairies

Norman Ravvin


The latter half of Eli Mandel's career took him to Toronto and
abroad, but his writing in these years moved ever back to his
childhood home in Estevan and his connection, through his
grandfather who was a rabbi and a shochet, to the Jewish pioneering
colony at Hirsch, Saskatchewan. In his collection, Out of Place,
Mandel offers an oblique and haunting account of the effect on
him as a writer, as well as on the Canadian landscape itself, of the
now vanished Jewish colonies at Hirsch and Hoffer. He makes, as
well, an explicit connection between his struggle to address the
fate of Hitler's victims and "the place of the Jewish dead on the
prairies." The juxtaposition of these themes helps us address the
role of memory and Jewish history in Mandel's work.

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