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A Woman in Jerusalem Paperback – August 6, 2007
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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.
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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Top Customer Reviews
Thus begins this whimsical and touching tale that launches the unnamed human resources manager on a strange odyssey. The fact that no one in the novel except the bombing victim is given a name lends the novel an allegorical feel. The dead woman is Yulia Ragayev, a mechanical engineer who emigrated from the former Soviet Union, and was subsequently granted temporary residence status in Israel. She lived in a run down shack in Jerusalem, and cleaned the bakery at night. Yulia was resigned to being separated from her thirteen-year old son, who had gone back to his mother's native country.
The human resources manager looks into the entire matter, at his boss's behest. He visits the morgue where the body lay for days, unclaimed, and he confronts the reporter who broke the story. He seeks answers to these questions: Why was the victim found with a pay stub from the bakery when the night manager claims that he had fired her a month earlier? Why was an obviously intelligent person like Yulia living in Jerusalem while holding such a menial job? Who will take responsibility for arranging her burial and where should she be buried?Read more ›
The story involves a dead non-Jewish woman, Yulia Ragayev,in her late 40s who had immigrated to Jersualem with her Jewish lover and her son from a former marriage. When her lover and son leave she opts to remain and is killed in an attack by suicide bombers. Although trained as an engineer, Yulia has taken a job as a cleaning woman with a large bakery company, whose parent company also makes newsprint. Upon her death, she is traced to the company, and an opportunistic news reporter, the "weasel" is going to publish an article faulting the company for not showing more compassion towards its employee.
Only Yulia is named in the novel with the other characters identified by their functions, such as the "weasel", the "office manager", and, the chief character "the human resources manager". A theme of the book thus seems to be the anonymity of modern life. The owner of the company, out of a mixture of genuine compassion and self-interest for his business, charges the human resources manager to learn Yulia's story and make appropriate amends on behalf of the company. The human resources manager ultimately travels with Yulia's coffin to an obscure village in Russia in the depth of winter, where he encounters the Israeli counsul, Yulia's ex-husband, her son, and her mother.
The book tells of the outward journey of the human resources manager to secure a proper burial for Yulia and his inward journey to find himself.Read more ›
To tell much more would give to much away about this engaging humorous story. A note should be said about those reviewers who complain that "A Woman in Jerusalem" lacked subtlety or depth. To say that this story is simple would be akin to saying that Carver's "What We Talk About when We Talk about Love" is about two couples having a drink or "Ulysses" is about a day in Dublin. The subtle layers of Yehoshua's novel contain much richness and thought, along with a great deal of pathos. Indeed, one must be impressed at the humanity and humor he brings to a subject as overwhelming as terrorism. Serious readers will not be disappointed.
Yehoshua accomplishes his tremendous illustration by painting a picture that is at once both Kafkaesque and surreal. He takes his protagonist, a human resource manager from a large Jerusalem bakery, through a journey all the way to the old Soviet Union. With him, he takes the body of a woman that died in Jerusalem in a terrorist bombing attack. The trip brings him in contact with the two living blood relatives of the dead woman and the ex-husband. Each meeting has a special character and each one drives the human resources manager to proceed in a specific direction.
In addition, Yehoshua makes certain commentary on the government and the Cold War. But the central theme of the book regards the attempt to give the body dignity under very difficult conditions, no matter what it takes. As there is "no choice" but to do what is necessary.
The book is recommended for all serious literature readers. It truly is one of the great works of the 21st Century to date. It is highly recommended.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
There might be an interesting story in here, but the writing and translating are so bad I could not get through it. Read morePublished 13 months ago by 1gudriter
I just love Yehoshua. This story is less about Israel and more about how the press can create a story with incomplete information and by jumping to conclusions.Published 23 months ago by Riva Kelton
I kept waiting for it to get good. It never happened. The author uses the device of identifying characters by their job title, not a name. Read morePublished on December 11, 2013 by S. Bassin