The Airship: Incantations
Author: Adam Tipps Weinstein
Publisher: The University of Alabama Press (2021)
The Airship is the entrancing fictional biography of Nathan Cohen, who was deported from the US in 1912 under the Alien Act and spent the first years of World War I on a passenger ship, shuttled between the US and Argentina. Newspapers called him “The Wandering Jew” and “The Man Without a Country,” speculating he would spend the rest of his life at sea.
Adam Tipps Weinstein provides a wise, rich, nuanced, and mischievous exploration of Cohen’s emigration from Bauska, in the Russian Pale of Settlement, to Las Pampas, in Argentina. The Airship is finally Cohen’s wish for a new line of flight, which he realizes when he launches his beloved Laika, aboard a scavenged hot-air balloon.
Told through a series of incantations—spells, songs, folk tales, ghosts, charms—the book traces Cohen’s biography across time and a great expanse of geography. The concepts of home and homeland are stretched until they break. Was there ever a home? The Airship incants these paradoxes of location, nationality, faith, and belonging in a bordered and borderless world.