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House of Windows: Portraits From a Jerusalem Neighborhood Paperback – March 12, 2002


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The author and her husband, Peter, moved to Jerusalem from the United States a decade ago, soon after she completed college, in an attempt to "test the bonds and limits of our American home." But unlike many of her contemporaries who write about themselves, Hoffman refreshingly ignores her inner world in favor of the geography and personalities in one neighborhood in the ancient and much fought over city of Jerusalem. It's her experiences with her neighborsAand their fascinating historiesAthat distinguish this expatriate's work. Some of those experiences could occur in any city, as when a neighbor who is still a virtual stranger thrusts all of her valuables on them to safeguard when she goes on a short trip. But others could only happen in Jerusalem: discussions with a fish-stand operator who describes his childhood in Morocco and his immigration to the Jewish state; an impromptu, "bittersweet" visit with a Palestinian family on a trip to Jordan; and a neighborhood battle with Orthodox Jews who want to cut down trees to make way for a religious school. At times, as in the latter case, Hoffman's American sensitivities may seem a bit extreme, but to her credit, she doesn't take herself too seriously. The writing in this debut book by the film critic for the Jerusalem Post is as poignant and layered as the subjects she writes aboutAand by detailing the ways history and culture play out in the day-to-day lives of the residents of one of the world's most contentious cities, she adds nuance and complexity to a much-studied subject. (Sept.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Hoffman, an American who has settled in Jerusalem, is the film critic for the Jerusalem Post. Her first book uses the colorful neighborhood where she lives, Musrara, on the border between East and West Jerusalem, as a way of introducing her readers to the rich variety of life in contemporary Israel. Originally a well-to-do Arab neighborhood, Musrara became the home of poor Moroccan Jews after 1948. Although many Moroccans still live there, the neighborhood is now more diversified and beginning to gentrify. Hoffman captures its essence in a series of portraits: a Moroccan Sephardic grocer, a Palestinian gardener, a multilingual retired fishmonger from Casablanca, and a nosy mother of 10. Her sketches of daily life in Musrara not only depict a changing community but also raise the issues of identity and exile. Jerusalem beyond the travelogues and the headlines. Barbara Bibel
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; 1 edition (March 12, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767910192
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767910194
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,102,370 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 11, 2000
Format: Hardcover
One of the many things I hate are books about foreigners who come to Jerusalem and through exploring the city find themselves. "The Book of Windows" is most definitely not one of those horrid books. Yes, Ms. Hoffman is a newcomer to the city, but the lovely book she's written is not one of neurotic American soul-searching but a minutely crafted portrait of a couple of streets she lives in that just happen to be in Jerusalem. Of course, as a Jerusalem resident I recognize the stories she tells as possible only in Jerusalem and nowhere else in the world. But Ms. Hoffman doesn't try to make any of the characters or events she so evocatively describes stand for anything except for themselves - there are no cheap attempts to turn the everyday occurrences of a tiny neighborhood and its residents into either "The Story of Jerusalem" or "The Story of Adina Hoffman". Instead, Ms. Hoffman has given us a series of small events which constitute the daily drama of living in Jerusalem: meeting the neighbors, food shopping, planting a garden. There are no earth-shattering revelations here, but the quiet, steady rhythm of real life which is far more satisfying and enjoyable.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 24, 2000
Format: Hardcover
"House of Windows" is a marvelous book which I have recommended to everyone I know who has ever started life over in a new place - or who has visited or lived in Israel, where these essays take place. Hoffman's every word is important and forms a fabric rather like a tapestry. In an appealing personal and affectionate way, Hoffman shows us her own feelings of vulnerability and humility in relations with her neighbors. Her intelligence and sensitive observations and conclusions are admirable - and quite enjoyably readable.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Gertrude Wellikoff on April 7, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I read this book a month ago and it had a calming effect on me. I think the writer intended this, intended to slow life down, even life in Jerusalem, which is not a slow moving city. She succeeds in drawing us readers slowly into a world she found, but one suspects it's also a world she made. Look for the next book by a talent that is bound to grow.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Bryon Sales on June 2, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I read this book while visiting Israel last summer. It is gentle. The writer has a poetic soul and now, reading it from USA, it gives us a vision of Jerusalem that isn't at war, a nice image if unfortunately not a true one-- not now. But there is a lyrical rhythm to this book that I recommend. 4 Stars.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Stephanie Cowell VINE VOICE on January 18, 2001
Format: Hardcover
What a beautiful, intimate, touching book...humorous and sometimes lonely, sad and deep. I almost couldn't believe I could not look out of my window and see Ms. Hoffmann's neighbors in the garden, or go to the grocer in search of olive oil just before sunset on a Friday. And beautifully published too, with little photographs beginning each section. It will stay by my bed to read again.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 22, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is a fascinating view of a neighborhood very different from what Americans have come to expect in pictures of Israel. Adina Hoffman writes about her mostly Moroccan neighbors with subtlety, perceptiveness and even humor. They live behind walls in a sort of village, a section of the city most visitors don't see, where life is rich and full of vigor on the one hand, and frustrating and sometimes even dangerous on the other. Although the writer is a film critic, her essays aren't about movies, but her eye is as sharp as a film maker's and I felt like I saw "Musrara" very clearly. This is a very satisfying collection by a sensitive and attentive writer.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 20, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I could not disagree more with "readernyc"! I hope that the reader is aware that this book is a work of non-fiction, where plot, per se, is not the purpose. The book is full of stories and characters -- real live characters vividly and sympathetically portrayed. I found Hoffman's descriptions evocative and powerful. This book provides a far more realistic portrait of life in Israel than does the evening news. But it is more than a story about a Jerusalem neighborhood and the people living side by side there. It is about simultaneously being an insider and an outsider, it is about challenging one's initial judgments of others and of the unfamiliar, and it is about understandings one's context. I highly recommend this book!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 22, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I loved this book. It made me want to move right into AH's neigbhorhood, so I too could get to know the wonderfully moving characters that inhabit this book. However, I wouldn't take it all in with her acute eyes and ears, so I'll just wait expectantly for her next book.
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