Red Shoes for Rachel, Sandler's award-winning collection of three novellas, features tightly wound tales that seamlessly incorporate diverse genres, including magic realism, satire, and autobiography, and profound psychological profiles to create touching portrayals of the human experience. Zumoff's translation of Sandler's original Yiddish collection makes the J. I. Segal Award–winning volume available to English readers for the first time.
In the collection's eponymous novella, Rachel, a daughter of Holocaust survivors raised in Brighton Beach, encounters a Moldovan Jewish immigrant divorcee as she is tending to her disabled, elderly mother along the Coney Island boardwalk. As the two begin a relationship, the story reveals their past and the commonalities between two children of Holocaust survivors raised in very different societies. In the novella Karolina Bugaz, an exhausted Moldovan Jewish immigrant architect leaves his wife and newly religious son behind to go on a cruise to a mysterious island, which may just be a direct voyage through space and time into his past. In the volume's most acclaimed story, Halfway Down the Road Back to You, an elderly Moldovan Holocaust survivor in Israel separated from her children by emigration must confront her past as her failing mind begins to blur the boundaries between her daily life and the horrors of war sixty years before. The novella was adapted by the author into an acclaimed play, which has been staged in the United States, Belgium, and France.