Starred Review. 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.)
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Renowned Israeli writer Yehoshua performs a bold improvisation on the basic plotline of Faulkner's As I Lay Dying and casts light on Israel's bloody history and cultural conflicts. The hero of this smart, suspenseful seriocomic tale of guilt, penance, and public relations is the human resources manager of a major Jerusalem company. When the 87-year-old owner learns that a local newspaper is about to run a scathing article about a company employee, a beautiful Russian who was killed by a suicide bomber and whose body remains unclaimed, he directs the human resources manager to find out what happened and make amends, no expenses spared. And so begins a sequence of ludicrous if well-meant mishaps as the manager mounts an improbable and risky expedition to return Yulia Ragayev's body to her isolated Soviet village, a journey that includes a surreal stopover at an obsolete Russian atomic-bomb shelter. Tautly composed in a manner akin to Kafka and Babel, Yehoshua's brilliant under-your-skin satire subtly evokes thoughts of war and terrorism, vulnerability and fate, the sacred and the profane. Donna Seaman
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There might be an interesting story in here, but the writing and translating are so bad I could not get through it. Read morePublished 8 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 18 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 20 months ago by S. Bassin