The Ascent of Eli Israel

ebook And Other Stories

By Jonathan Papernick

cover image of The Ascent of Eli Israel

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A profoundly unsettling collection of tales of Americans caught up in the ethnic, religious, social, economic, and political conflicts of modern day Israel, by an astonishing new voice.

In a land where sudden death is an everyday fact of life, a boy dodges bullets and searches through rubble for news of his soldier father. An aging rabbi's faith is tested by a crippling, seemingly supernatural affliction. A middle-aged man comforts his Holocaust-survivor mother as she faces senility, convinced that Nazis are conspiring against her. And the mysterious biblical red heifer makes a startling appearance in the midst of a decidedly contemporary struggle.

In these unsettling tales, the remarkable Jon Papernick transports us to modern-day Israel, a country torn by war, strife, and controversy throughout the history of its statehood. Giving voice to striking characters—Israelis, Palestinians, and Americans; Arabs, Christians, and Jews—caught in the ethnic, religious, social, and political conflicts of a dangerous region, Papernick brings the images we glimpse from afar, in newspapers and on television, chillingly to life. By turns starkly realistic and allegorically fantastic, these tales chronicle the conflict from the inside and illuminate the suffering and anger experienced by those on all sides.

In "An Unwelcome Guest," a young Jewish settler from New York plays a deadly game of backgammon with a ghostly old Arab while his pregnant wife sleeps unaware. In "The King of the King of Falafel," a restaurant rivalry ends in apocalyptic violence. In "Lucky Eighteen," two young Americans living in Jerusalem as the Oslo accords collapse juggle political activism and a devastating love triangle—under the dark specter of suicide bombings. And in the brilliant, horrifying title story, a lonely shepherd wanders a broken no-man's-land, carrying with him the burden of an unspeakable act.

In these haunting and strangely beautiful stories, the tragic carnage of the Middle East is rendered in unforgettable form. Suffused with rage, violence, humor, magic, and religion, this gripping collection leaves a profound impact. Evenhanded yet passionate, shocking yet hopeful, The Ascent of Eli Israelheralds the arrival of a masterful storyteller.

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The Ascent of Eli Israel