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Yoel Hoffmann

Fiction, 2001

Shunra is Aramaic for “cat.” Schmetterling is German for “butterfly.” This book brings together these and other creatures, cultures and languages in a magical hymn to childhood. Hoffman traces his hero’s developing consciousness of the ways and wonders of the world as though he were peering through a tremendous kaleidoscope – all that was perceived, all that is remembered, is rendered in fluid fragments of color and light. With remarkable delicacy and sweep, Hoffmann captures childhood from the inside out, without the backward-looking wash of grown-up sentiment. Instead, the boy’s deadpan registration of the human comedy around him is offered up as strangely magical fact. THE SHUNRA AND THE SCHMETTERLING is fiction for lovers of poetry and poetry for lovers of fiction – a small marvel of a book, and one of the author’s finest.

Rights Sold to:

France, Galaade; Israel, Keter; USA, New Directions 


“Unforgettable, a powerful communication between author and reader, transcending time and place.” – Mary Whipple,

“A poetic little slip of a thing that holds the world, decades, entire lives, sorrows and beauties all as if in a pair of cupped hands.... Beautiful, humane, priceless.” – Kirkus Reviews

“All of [Hoffmann's] works...are about the beauty of the ordinary, about the soaring flights language and thought can take.” – Robert Leiter, Jewish Exponent

“Ethereal and beautiful, this is a collection to ponder and savor.” – Jewish Book World

“Readers who welcome lyrical prose...will delight in Hoffmann's novella, and in a philosophy of writing that inspires contemplation.” – Leslie Cohen, World Literature Today 

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