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Talking to the Enemy: Stories Paperback – July 11, 2006


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Mandelman, an Israeli living in Toronto, complicates the underside of Israeli culture, teasing out the roots of violence and prejudice in this alternately dark and humorous collection, which won the Jewish Book Award when first published in Canada. Mickey, a Mossad agent and son of Holocaust survivors, narrates several pieces spanning his lifetime, including "Terror," in which he betrays his five-year-old brother and suffers a beating from his father, learning the hard way that "family comes first," a lesson that morphs into his reigning ideology: "Is it good for my people?" "Pity" details the disastrous results—and the chink in Mickey's hardened, vengeful bluster—when he and his colleagues botch a two-week stake-out of a Nazi war criminal in Paris. In "Black," the young narrator recalls his Ashkenazi family's unlovely rejection of his cousin's dark-skinned Moroccan bride. Mandelman strikes a lighter note with the hilariously convoluted "Mish-Mash," about Uncle Nathan Berkovitch's polygamous household—his concubine, his two wives and one of their lovers—and their conflict over a winning lottery ticket. With these agile, vernacular stories, Mandelman takes a clear-sighted yet empathetic view of a fraught nation. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Born in Israel in 1947, AVNER MANDELMAN served in the Israeli Air Force during the Six-Day War and has for four decades split his time between Paris, California, and Canada. Mandelman’s stories have appeared in Best American Short Stories 1995, The Journey Prize Stories, and The 1996 Pushcart Prize XX.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Seven Stories Press (July 11, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1583227296
  • ISBN-13: 978-1583227299
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.4 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #99,712 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

For more information about Avner Mandelman and his published work, please visit www.avnermandelman.com

Customer Reviews

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Edward on October 24, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is really one of the major achievements when it comes to literature about Israel written in English. These fierce, unsparing stories tell us a great deal about the costs of being tough, of unending violence, of the suppression of softer human qualities. Mandelman's language perfectly captures the landscape, the anxieties, the sense of loss of contemporary Israel. There is a steady proliferation of fiction about Israel but this is the real thing.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Northwest on March 14, 2009
Format: Paperback
A long time ago I read a short story, 'Pity', in 'Best American Stories 1995'. The story was an intense tale of Israeli secret service hunting a Nazi. It blew me away. It took over ten years before I tried to hunt down more from the writer, Avner Mandelman. This is the only other fiction of his I've been able to find, and it is incredible. It carries ten times the power of the film 'Munich'. The title story brought me to tears. Mandelman shows the futility and absurdity of the tension in the Middle East in such an intimate, real, and powerful manner. This book should be required reading for anyone who cares about human conflict.

I only wonder why Mandelman has not built a career. Evidently, he runs the investment firm Giraffe Capital, and is the author of 'The Sleuth Investor', a tome about financial strategies. There's another book titled 'Cuckoo', but it seems out of print, and 'Talking to the Enemy' has a story with same name. What happened? Sometimes, I guess, the life of the writer is too painful too pursue, and based on these stories, I can see why Mandelman perhaps would have chosen a career with less headaches, like heart surgeon or investor.

'Talking to the Enemy: Stories' should stay in the public's mind, and hopefully one day Mandelman will write a novel or more stories.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Simon Barrett 'Il Penseroso' on July 8, 2007
Format: Paperback
Having finished this book, I read it all over again. I have never done this before in my life (64 this month!). These discrete stories work off and illuminate each other - if illuminate is the word for such a darkly pessimistic (and, yes, funny!) view of human nature, taking the Israeli experience as paradigm. The whole thing's a tragedy for the Jews because they're a damaged people in the process of damaging their non-Jewish neighbours; but in that too it's like family life. I guess Mandelman's saying we're all damaged - oy veh! - but this is no way a depressing read; beautifully written and edited (apart from some dodgy French) its bleakly irreverent voice will alas not be heard by those who most need to hear it. More, please, Mandelman!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By George Baral on July 28, 2007
Format: Paperback
Mandelman has crafted some provocative, haunting vignettes. These stories go quickly, but I had to put the book down after each one to reflect on what I had just experienced. I had to finish each story in one sitting, though, even though I was (slightly) late for appointments twice. These stories of Israeli life and emotions were quite moving, and like good literature should be, slightly disturbing.
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By Joseph L. Maple Jr. on November 28, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The stories were good, but for the most part dark, violent and sad. Mish Mash was refreshing amoungst it all.
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