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A Soviet prison, 1952. Stalin's secret police have rounded up twenty-six writers, the giants of Yiddish literature in Russia. As judgment looms, a twenty-seventh suddenly appears: Pinchas Pelovits, unpublished and unknown. Baffled by his arrest, he and his cellmates wrestle with the mysteries of party loyalty and politics, culture and identity, and with what it means to write in troubled times. When they discover why the twenty-seventh man is among them, the writers come to realize that even in the face of tyranny stories still have the power to transcend.