Benya (Benzion) Krik (Russian: Беня Крик) is a fictional character in Isaak Babel's collection of short stories, The Odessa Tales. He also plays a prominent role in Babel's play Sunset. He is a Russian gangster of Jewish descent, and he and his gang of thugs are the main focus of the stories.
The Odessa Tales
Krik, who is also known as The King, is the leader of a group of thugs and smugglers, that operate in the Jewish ghetto Moldavanka in Odessa. He is married to Tsilya Eichbaum, whom he met when he was trying to shake down her father, as is detailed in the short story The King (Russian: Король). A couple of days after they met, he returned the protection money to Eichbaum, and asked for her hand later. The couple spent three months on honeymoon in Bessarabia, and returned for the wedding of Krik's sister Dvoira. Odessa's new police chief planned to use the wedding festivities to round up Krik's gang, but is thwarted by the arson of the police station.
As the curtain rises, the Krik family awaits the arrival of Bobrinets, a wealthy suitor who wishes to marry Dvoira Krik. Although his daughter is already considered an old maid, Mendel Krik refuses to give her a dowry and insults Bobrinets, who leaves in a huff. Later, a weeping Nekhama Krik reminds her husband that the Jewish elders are about to bar him from the synagogue. However, Mendel mocks her as she laments having no grandchildren.
Later, Mendel drinks up his family's money at the local saloon and begins an extramarital affair with Marusia Kholodenko, a 20 year-old Gentile. Despite their Russian Orthodox faith, the Kholodenko family is ecstatic to have a new source of money.
Enraged by rumors that Mendel is about to disinherit them and elope to Bessarabia with Marusia, Benya and Lvovka Krik attack their father. Although Lvovka is severely beaten, Benya batters Mendel to a pulp and forbids him from leaving the house or Nekhama.
In the aftermath, Benya and Lvovka arrange to Dvoira to receive a dowry to marry Bobrinets. They also pay for an abortion for the pregnant Marusia. At a party to celebrate Dvoira's engagement, Rabbi Ben Zkharia declares that "everything is as it should be" and proposes a toast to the sons of Mendel Krik.
In other media
Krik was portrayed by Yuri Shemsky in the 1926 film Benya Krik.