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Yiftah Reicher Atir

Fiction, 2013

Rachel, a former Mossad operative of British origin, has disappeared without a trace. After years of operating undercover in an Arab country, she is capable of causing incalculable damage to Israel. The person closest to her, her former case officer, begins to disclose the history of her exploits. There were daring operations and impossible loves. But will she be found before it’s too late?

THE ENGLISH TEACHER is a spy novel about a courageous and valuable operative, but it goes well beyond the boundaries of the genre. This is also a psychological novel, a sensitive and poignant portrait of a woman whose assumed identity as an English teacher in an enemy country leads her to forbidden love. Yiftach Reicher-Atir tells a startlingly frank and intense story about intimacy forged in conditions of extreme isolation and loneliness, and the inevitable price paid by those who live in lies.

Rights Sold:

Germany: Zweitausendeins: Israel: Keter; North America: Penguin Books; Japan: Hayakawa

Film Rights: Yuval Adler


“An extraordinary page-turner.” – Gideon Raff, creator, writer and producer of Homeland

“Reicher Atir writes with poetic authority of the bleak isolation that pervades the life of the spy long after their active existence is over. This black yet strangely beautiful tragedy will stay with me for a long time.”  – Alex Marwood, Edgar Award-winning author of The Wicked Girls and The Killer Next Door

“A person familiar with intelligence affairs who has read the book has told me, passionately, that it reveals ‘the most profound and educated view ever published about the handling of Mossad combatants in countries in which they are placed’.” – Ronen Bergman, author of Israel’s Secret War with Iran

“Reicher-Atir…probes how leading a double life can erode the foundations of a spy’s former existence; how all of the lies are rooted in truth, and the truth, especially when it comes to love, is often coated with a patina of lies… Rachel’s life, and the artful way the grinding strain of her routine is depicted, is riveting… The focus of the book is on…the internal life of such a woman, the grinding toll of constant vigilance, the limitations on love while operating clandestinely, and the complex but reassuring relationship between a combatant in an enemy country and his or her handler or case officer. And Reicher-Atir…is masterful in his depiction of this inner world and the scars it leaves over time.” – Mitch Ginsburg, The Times of Israel

“The book… is surprisingly good and does exactly what a novel of its kind should do: re-examine the Mossad. Throughout the book…doubts are cast on personal as well as national morality…Reicher-Atir seeks to pinpoint the fine line separating the moral actions that operatives perform for their country and their own exploitation .” – Yiftah Ashkenazy, Ha’aretz

“The credibility of The English Teacher stems from the flaws of its protagonists. This isn’t James Bond or Wonder-Woman. These are people with weaknesses, psychological damage and emotional deficits… men and women who have experienced the most extreme feelings doing their duty in hostile countries… [A]fter their controllers have used them up, squeezed them to the full, prevented them for years from developing ordinary lives, they bring them back to a regular calm pulse, to anonymity in which there’s no more glory. Their scars touch their souls, and they keep on missing… the deep sense of truth they left behind, at the heart of their made-up lives.” – Jonathan de-Shalit, Maariv

“The psychological novel Reicher-Atir has written introduces us to the lives of people who are at the service of the state. [N]one of us really considers the price they pay. It reveals the loneliness, the routine which has nothing routine about it, the confusion and the agitation they cannot be distracted by, even for a moment, since any mistake might result in the loss of life, sometime the life of more than one person. It also reveals the gap between a life of glory and thrill (even if those remain hidden) and the lives waiting for those who retired and whose service is no longer required.” – Anat Bar-Lev Efrati, La’Isha

“More than anything this is a book about the incredible loneliness of an operative planted in enemy soil…Yiftah Reicher-Atir deconstructs the figure of his protagonist…Gently and with much love he tries to understand his protagonist’s motives. He tries to explain, perhaps to himself as well, what impels this rare sort of operatives to do what they do… [T]he book is written well and with convincing, elegant restraint, and is free of heroism… Reicher-Atir has created Mossad operative who resemble Le Carré’s Smiley’s People more than James Bond. And yet he manages to keep the reader in suspense …” – Aharon Lapidot, Israel Today

“Richer-Atir gives the reader a detailed depiction of operational undercover routine in an enemy state: the double lives, the supposedly controlled partial schizophrenia, the necessary lies, the fear which comes the first time one crosses a border with fake documents, the flutters of the heart at the sound of heavy footsteps in the corridor, the unique relationship with the handler, the longing for warmth and love and the knowledge that a romantic relationship could be life- threatening…[W]hoever is looking for the motives [of such people]…will find answers in this psychological novel, which is set in the dark world of intelligence.” – Gad Shimron, Ha’aretz

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