Alexander Meilahs. Red Zion

Author: Alexander Meilahs
Title: Red Zion

Year: 2006

A novel based on true events describing the challenging attempt to create a home for all the European Jewish people in Siberia, far behind the Iron Curtain.
This novel tells the story of creating a home for Soviet Jewish people within the territory of the USSR, which was initiated with the Kalinin’s Declaration (which was analogous to the Balfour Declaration of 1917, promising Zionists a national home in Palestine). The main character is Bentsy Davidan, who is six years old in 1935, at the start of the novel. We follow him from his native Polish town to the territory of the USSR, where we witness misery his family have to undergo: the suicide of his father, the death of his both sisters, and the imprisonment of his brother. We travel with Bentsy through Tehran to Palestine, while he entertains the main hope of his life: to one day get to Red Zion, Birobijan, the home for all the Jewish people. When at the end of his life he finally reaches Red Zion, which is called “Jewish Autonomous Region” he realizes that the whole Birobijan story is a fake. Conceived as a home for all the European Jews, Birobijan stayed only an illusion.
Alexander Melikhov manages to combine nearly existential writing, where the protagonist faces the problem of his own identity, with a powerful heart-breaking story about the dream of the whole nation.
Sample translation available.
Alexander Melikhov was born in 1947. He majored in Mathematics in the Leningrad State University and received a doctor degree in mathematical and mechanical sciences. Alexander Melikhov’s titles were awarded a number of prizes including Pen Club Award and the Union of St Petersburg Writers Prize. Alexander is a prose writer and publicist. He lives in St Petersburg.