A Novel of Klass




A Novel of Klass

Curt Leviant


A tragicomic novel with two endings! The self proclaimed "Yiddish painter" Ayzik Klass, who lived through the Holocaust, gets his first New York gallery show. But Yiddish is a language, how can a person paint in Yiddish? Semantics are the least of Klass's problems, for his wife Griselda seems intent on making sure the ruining it.

Ayzik Klass, self-styled “Yiddish Painter” and survivor of the Holocaust, has finally gotten his first New York City gallery show. But Yiddish is a language. How can someone paint in Yiddish? Semantics are the least of Klass’s problems, for his wife, named Griselda by some grand joke of the universe, is intent on making the opening a grand success. And Griselda is anything but patient. Will she ruin Klass’s opening? Will she somehow manage to kill Klass? Is A Novel of Klass a mystery? Probably not. Is it a comedy? Probably so. Is it a tragedy? Probably so. Does it have two endings? Most definitely so.     

ISBN: 9781604890-19-8    Trade paper $16.95           Sale $6.00

ISBN: 978-1-604890-18-1  Library binding $27            Sale $11.00

340 pages

About the Author: 

Curt Leviant has published short stories and novellas in more than two dozen American and Canadian magazines and literary quarterlies. His work has been anthologized in Best American Short Stories, Prize Stories: the O. Henry Awards, and other collections.

Leviant has translated six books by Sholem Aleichem, including: The Song of Songs and Old Country Tales. He presently teaches at Rutgers University.


Excerpt from the Book:

   Now everyone knows.

   Ayzik Klass is dead.

            For a while, for 4.3 days to be exact, the news was kept secret.  From friends, colleagues, media.  The artist had no relatives.  But now everyone knew, and knew he was killed.  Or “killed”.  But no matter killed or “killed”.  Dead is dead.  That he was done in there was no doubt in the New York’s Yiddish community.  And everyone seemed to know who did it.  But were they right?  No one really knows.  Was it his mortal enemy, the man whom Klass called his private Haman, his literary nemesis, his personal Stalin, Gimpl Englander?  Or was it his good friend, the man he loved and respected above all others, the man who put him on the map, Peter Rifkes Breslauer?  Or was it the ex-glazier, the double Dutchman van Joop, a.k.a. Squirrel?  Or perhaps his darling wife, the bane and benison of Klass’s life (or vain and venison, as her enemies --- and they were legion, more numerous that dots on a Pointillist painting --- would have quipped had they the wit and punditry of their betters.)?  Or was it someone else?  Me don’t ask.  I’m not telling.  So lead on, dear leader, lead on.

            The problem was how it was done, the deed I mean.  For the police were never involved.  Not for a moment.  Still, everyone who knew Klass (pronounced Klaaahss, like faaaather, Klahss the British way), everyone who knew him called it murder.

            Gone the Yiddish painter.

            We can only imagine what thoughts ran through Klass’s head, dying in the hospital, knowing he was slipping, aware who was responsible, but unable to utter a word.

            Dying now, this way, done in, after all he’d been through, was the last of the great jokes that the non-existent God had played on him.  But he had memories, thank God, some good, some bad, and they all, like a never-ending mural compressed in time and space, a shooting star with the mass of a golf ball, crowded, pointed me me me, begging to be recollected, put into paint.

            Clear, luminescent, quicker than sunlight, what thoughts, memories, wishes flew by before the bright light blinded him forever in a prism flash of colors he never could, now never would, put on canvas