Synopses & Reviews
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has shaped the consciousness of a generation, but never before has it been brought to life in such vivid and telling prose. Part Tim OBrien and part Bernard Malamud, Avner Mandelmans Talking to the Enemy ranges from boisterously entertaining tales of domestic squabbles to dark narratives from disillusioned soldiers. Awarded the Jewish Book Award when it was published in Canada and supplemented with recent stories, Talking to the Enemy is the powerful American debut of an international favorite.
"Pity" draws the reader through the descending layers of horror of an Israeli soldier who is party to an assassination attempt gone terribly wrong. In "Terror" a man recalls a traumatic childhood incident that taught him family comes first—before justice, before fear. On a lighter note, "Mish-Mash" is a comical tornado set off when a winning lottery ticket is discovered in a less-than-conventional family, best described as "Sholem Aleichem writes Peyton Place on speed" (Montreal Gazette). Underneath their often brash exteriors Mandelmans characters search for reconciliation and fulfillment in a land where conflict is a part of everyday life. Mandelman ensnares readers in intense plot-driven narratives that are pierced through with unexpected and ingenious twists. Beneath the surface of the often sparse prose lies evocative, unanswered questions about humanity. Every story delivers a thoroughly engrossing read with an unforgettable ending.
"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)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Awarded the Jewish Book Award when it was published in Canada and now supplemented with recent stories, "Talking to the Enemy's vivid and telling prose details life shaped by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has shaped the consciousness of a generation, but never before has it been brought to life in such vivid and telling prose. Part Tim O'Brien and part Bernard Malamud, "Talking to the Enemy" ranges from boisterously entertaining tales of domestic squabbles to dark narratives from disillusioned soldiers.
Provocative and tightly woven stories of life in a war zone.
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. Mandelmans stories have appeared in Best American Short Stories 1995, The Journey Prize Stories, and The 1996 Pushcart Prize XX.