Fiddler on the Roof fans who have not yet read the stories should give this a try.Tevye is here, in all his glory: his humor, his sorrow, his philosophical reflections, his faith.But friends of well crafted short stories who shun the traditional musical should give it a look too.These stories have a darkness and depth not found in the Bock/Harnick/Stein Broadway classic.

The title of this book is somewhat deceiving, since the monologues of Tevye the Dairyman comprise only one-fourth of the stories and approximately one-half of the text of this three-hundred-page volume.Although I enjoyed it all, The Tevye stories are superior to the rest.

Sholom Aleichem found in Tevye—as Mark Twain found in Huckleberry Finn—a persona with a voice so original and engaging that it allows him to achieve an emotional range and concentrated power only occasionally matched in the rest of his work. Tevye tells his stories to “ Mister Sholem Aleichem,” and the reader, through his identification with this listener, gets to know Tevye intimately–laugh at his digressions and misapplied scripture, smile at his gentleness and humanity and weep for his sorrows.

Don't get me wrong, though:many of the non-Tevye stories are very effective too.I particularly like “The Man from Buenos Aires” (a charming wheeler-dealer returns to his native Ukraine), “The Easy Fast” (a powerful tale of hunger and poverty) and the hilarious “Two Shalachmones, or A Purim Scandal” (how two hungry servant girls spark a family feud).