Get local news delivered straight to your phone

28

WEDNESDAY

Support City Paper!

$
$
$

Your contribution is appreciated.

Long before Rich Cohen wrote Tough Jews, Isaac Babel had already exposed a seamy Jewish underworld. In his collection of short stories titled Tales of Odessa, published in book form in 1931, Babel introduced readers to the community of Russian Jewish gangsters, saloon keepers, whores, and rabbis who populated his hometown on the eve of the Revolution. During the war, he served as a correspondent with the Red Army, which offered much material for his Red Cavalry stories. With Liutov, a Jewish officer assigned to a regiment of anti-Semitic Cossacks, Babel challenged his readers not to make assumptions. That kind of thinking did not fare well in the Stalinist era: Babel was arrested by the secret police in 1939, confessed to a longstanding association with Trotskyites, and was later executed. Recently, his daughter, Nathalie Babel, and translator Peter Constantine collaborated on The Complete Works of Isaac Babel. They will discuss Babel’s literary legacy with National Public Radio’s Martin Goldsmith at 7 p.m. at the District of Columbia Jewish Community Center, 1529 16th St. NW. $15. (202) 357-3030. (Elissa Silverman)