Talk­ing to the Enemy

Avn­er Mandelman
  • Review
By – July 26, 2012

Mandelman’s col­lec­tion of short sto­ries takes on some of the most com­plex issues in Israeli soci­ety today by chal­leng­ing the dog­mas of its most obsti­nate char­ac­ters. The first sto­ry, Push­cart Prize-win­ner Pity,” may be the best of the col­lec­tion. It intro­duces the hard voice that per­me­ates Mandelman’s col­lec­tion, the voice of his Mossad oper­a­tive, a ruth­less man who exists in a moral obliv­ion guid­ed only by dog­ma and vengeance. The tex­ture of these sto­ries dis­con­certs rather than soothes, plant­i­ng doubt rather than offer­ing res­o­lu­tion. Their edgi­ness is often hard to take in. The brazen­ness of Mandelman’s mil­i­tary fig­ures stands in stark con­trast to his por­trait of a polygamy case in Israel’s Rab­bini­cal Court in Mish-Mash,” a sto­ry that can only be described as a Tal­mu­dic brain scram­ble. Man­del­man achieves a unique voice in Israeli literature.

Relat­ed Content:

Daniel Grushkin is a jour­nal­ist for­mer­ly based in the Mid­dle East who now free­lances in New York City.

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