David Bergelson’s Yiddish language novel The End of Everything takes many pages to get some traction, and will no doubt leave behind many readers. The pacing is slow; Bergelson is deliberate in setting up his time, place, and cast of characters.
The second major problem readers will have is the main character, Mirel. She is a woman stuck in a stale world. She is unable to study, advance, or get ahead without being married. The problem is that Bergelson does not show enough of her ‘talents.’ Yes she is trapped, but what does she plan to do with her freedom if she ever obtains it? The novel here is unclear.
Yet for all that, the novel is worth reading despite its sluggish pace. Bergelson creates a vivid picture of sadness, despair, and the deep need of all people to escape it.