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Talking to the Enemy: Stories


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About the Author

Avner Mandelman divides his time between Paris, California and Canada. His stories have been widely published throughout Israel and the USA.


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) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

"Mandelman's stories veer from heartbreaking to hilarious, and all of them depict Israel's desperate fragility and the horrific lengths to which its citizens must go to survive." - New York Times Book Review (Editor's Choice)"

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