Peter Manseau’s “Songs for the Butcher’s Daughter” excerpt


Happy to read today that Peter Manseau’s debut novel Songs for the Butcher’s Daughter is excerpted on nextbook.org. Peter, the co-founder of the religion website Killing the Buddha and author of the memoir Vows: The Story of a Priest, a Nun and Their Son, will be reading from his book along with poet Janet Kirchheimer at the Hyman S. & Freda Bernstein Jewish Literary Festival on Thursday, September 18 at 7:00 pm.

The excerpt from the book deals with the famous blood libel that helped spark the Kishinev pogrom, which serves as a central plot point in the novel’s narrative.

Of course! Who else, oh wise men of Dubossary? Who but the Jews would kill a boy and leave him on the roadside for a Christian peasant to piss on? Who but the Jews would be so stealthy in their motives yet so careless in their execution? Who but the Jews would build their own gallows, tie their own nooses, and hire the hangmen to stretch their necks? All these years later, it remains baffling to me that Jews know this same lie has been told for a thousand years, while Christians hear it each time as a revelation. That we should be judged and murdered by such imbeciles is sorely vexing. With a Cossack’s boot on his neck, a Moldovan dirt farmer would strain himself to ask who was the Jew that knocked him down.

But such is the world. And such was our corner of it in those days that provisions traveled with difficulty over our rattling roads, but words moved like fire. Through the next three months, as I grew in my mother’s womb, the lies of Dubossary impregnated our city and likewise grew, waiting for the day when they might burst forth wailing in blood.

Read the full excerpt here

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