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A Woman in Jerusalem


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About the Author

A. B. YEHOSHUA is the author of numerous novels, including Mr. Mani, Five Seasons, The Liberated Bride, and A Woman in Jerusalem. His work has been translated into twenty-eight languages, and he has received many awards worldwide, including the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the National Jewish Book Award. He lives in Tel Aviv, Israel. An author, journalist, and internationally reknowned, awarding-winning translator, Hillel Halkin has translated several novels from Hebrew into English.


Israel's master novelist (Mr. Mani) tells a spellbinding tale about a spellbinding woman whose luminous smile, swan's neck and Tatar eyes are so beguiling that even in death she can lead a man to fall in love with her. The woman is Yulia Ragayev, a Slavic immigrant to Israel who has been killed in a terrorist bombing and whose corpse lies unidentified in a morgue for a week. The man (who, like everyone in the novel except Yulia, remains nameless) is the human resources manager at the commercial bakery where Yulia worked as a cleaning woman. A muckraking article forces the bakery's owner to discover her identity and take action to restore her dignity. The owner orders the HR director to return Yulia's body to her son and mother in her native land for burial-a journey that turns into an opportunity for moral redemption for him after a series of stunning reversals. Throughout, Yulia remains a mystery: why did she come to, and cling to, Jerusalem when she wasn't Jewish? Questions of morality, dignity, identity, nationality and belonging are subtly explored in sometimes hallucinatory prose, fluently translated by Halkin. This short novel's layers reveal themselves only gradually and, once revealed, continue to compel and provoke. (Aug.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

He doesn't know it, but the manager of the human resources division of a bakery in Jerusalem is about to launch on a journey. A woman killed in a terrorist bombing has been traced to the bakery by a pay stub, and a nasty newspaper story condemns the owner's insensitivity in letting her languish nameless in the morgue. In fact, she's not currently an employee, but it's up to the manager to fix this public relations disaster, an assignment that leads him from the victim's shabby home all the way to Russia to deliver her body to her mother and son. While surmounting bureaucratic hurdles, the manager wrestles with issues of doing good. He's also painfully reminded of his strained relationships with his daughter and ex-wife. As might be expected from noteworthy Israeli author Yehoshua (The Liberated Bride), the writing is beautifully exact and the moral issues delivered with understated authority. Yet the protagonist's circumscribed nature and grinding battles to accomplish his goal can lend the narrative an airless and boxed-in feel. Nevertheless, any novel by Yehoshua should be strongly considered by literary and international fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 4/1/06.]-Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.


"The force and deceptive simplicity of a masterpiece . . . embedded in this simple story are fundamental questions about identity, selfhood, belonging."--CLAIRE MESSUD, THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW "A sad, warm, funny book . . . that has deep lessons to impart."--THE ECONOMIST

"[T]he writing is beautifully exact and the moral issues delivered with an understated authority."

--Barbara Hoffert"Library Journal" (06/01/2006)

"This novel has about it the force and deceptive simplicity of a masterpiece: terse, eminently readable but resonantly dense."
--Claire Messud"New York Times Book Review" (08/13/2006)
"This mysterious, quiet meditation on Jerusalem is, I think, about something much greater [than Israel's "problems and identity."] The manager . . . trying to make some meaning of . . . pointless, violent death, as all the structures of his own life fall apart around him, is a figure much bigger and much sadder than even the horrific reality of Israel can suggest."
-- (06/01/2006)
"A moving, unsentimental reckoning with death and renewal."
--Kirkus Reviews (05/15/2006)

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