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Batya Gur

Fiction, Harper Collins, 2001

From acclaimed Israeli author Batya Gur, the fifth installment in the Michael Ohayan mystery series set in a politically charged Arab quarter south of West Jerusalem

The body of a young woman with her face smashed in is discovered in the attic of a house on Bethlehem Street, in the Baka neighborhood of Jerusalem. Chief Superintendent Michael Ohayon is called to the scene of the crime where, beyond the usual horror, an old love and an unfinished romance await him.

As in her previous novels, Batya Gur has spun a complex and fascinating murder investigation that serves as a means for entering a closed world with rules and a logic of its own. But here, the closed world is a Jerusalem neighborhood that enfolds the entire Israeli experience in miniature. Gur wonderfully draws the fissures in this complex world and makes it, like the murder investigation, worthy of further examination. The criminal investigation is set against the background of tensions between Ashkenazis and Mizrahis, hostility between Jews and Arabs, the affair of the kidnapped Yemenite children of the 1950s, and the al Aqsa Intifada in 2000.

Rights Sold:

France: Fayard; Germany: Goldmann; Israel: Keter; Spain: Siruela; USA: Harper/Collins


“As always, Gur takes infinite care with the exacting studies of the characters who give her stories their extraordinary vitality….” – The New York Times Book Review

“Gur’s outstanding police procedural, her fifth Michael Ohayon mystery, can hold its own with the best work of P.D. James.” – Starred review Publishers Weekly

“Under the apparently quotidian setting exists a very subtle analysis of Israeli society and history….The intractable tensions between Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews breeds hatred and mistrust, and the way to understand them and even, perhaps, to prevent future violence lies in good measure in the way Batya Gur brings them to light. There is a substantial measure of courage and talent here, hidden under the pretext of an amiable detective novel.” – Le Monde

“Batya Gur succeeds in drawing wonderfully sensible character descriptions and an enthralling description of life in a country where the permanent state of emergency is permanent.” – Welt am Sonntag

“Romeo and Juliet in Jerusalem…Not only is [the novel] a highly topical political thriller, it is also a precisely drawn fresco of the depths of human passions and despair.” – Abendzeitung Muenchen

“Batya Gur is a skillful observer of various milieus and the sensibilities within Israeli society. The book reveals the inner tensions between old-established inhabitants and newcomers, between different cultures, languages and customs that are, on the outside, concealed by the conflict with the Palestinians. It takes an uncompromising analyst like Batya Gur to make an outsider understand the complicated nuances of a seemingly homogenous society.” – Standard

“Through the investigative techniques of her fictional detective Michael Ohayon, Batya Gur lays bare the contradictions that tear modern-day Israel apart. She tells us about racism, fear, hatred, the conflicts between European and Oriental Jews, and the violence linked to the second Intifada. But also – and better than newspaper reports convey – she reveals the incredible love of life in this little country that dances on a volcano.” – ELLE Magazine (French edition)

“An intelligent thriller by Israel’s #1 Crime Lady.” – Petra Top Five

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