Talking to the Enemy by Avner Mandelman

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The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has shaped the consciousness of a generation, but never before has it been brought to life in such vivid and telling prose. Part Tim O’Brien and part Bernard Malamud, Avner Mandelman’s Talking to the Enemy ranges from boisterously entertaining tales of domestic squabbles to dark narratives from disillusioned soldiers. Awarded the Jewish Book Award when it was published in Canada and supplemented with recent stories, Talking to the Enemy is the powerful American debut of an international favorite.
"Pity" draws the reader through the descending layers of horror of an Israeli soldier who is party to an assassination attempt gone terribly wrong. In "Terror" a man recalls a traumatic childhood incident that taught him family comes first—before justice, before fear. On a lighter note, "Mish-Mash" is a comical tornado set off when a winning lottery ticket is discovered in a less-than-conventional family, best described as "Sholem Aleichem writes Peyton Place on speed" (Montreal Gazette). Underneath their often brash exteriors Mandelman’s characters search for reconciliation and fulfillment in a land where conflict is a part of everyday life. Mandelman ensnares readers in intense plot-driven narratives that are pierced through with unexpected and ingenious twists. Beneath the surface of the often sparse prose lies evocative, unanswered questions about humanity. Every story delivers a thoroughly engrossing read with an unforgettable ending.

About Avner Mandelman

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Born in Israel in 1947, AVNER MANDELMAN served in the Israeli Air Force during the Six-Day War and has for four decades split his time between Paris, California, and Canada. Mandelman's stories have appeared in Best American Short Stories 1995, The Journey Prize Stories, and The 1996 Pushcart Prize XX.
Published July 11, 2006 by Seven Stories Press. 144 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction, War. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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The injured child’s mother begins to beat his brother, and the narrator shames himself by joining the crowd of children who chant, “Serves you right.” That night his father, who has just returned from leading the first ever Israeli retribution operation against Arab terrorists who had attacked a ...

May 01 2005 | Read Full Review of Talking to the Enemy: Stories

Publishers Weekly

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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.

May 30 2005 | Read Full Review of Talking to the Enemy: Stories

New York Magazine

Involuntarily, as the story ends, you connect the bank number to the concentration-camp number on the father’s hand when he slapped the boy in the earlier story.

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New York Magazine

Like their American counterparts, they feel inadequate, even though, unlike their American counterparts, they won their sixties war (it took them six days) and have been taking care of other business since.

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