Hebrew SFT: Novels (Part 2)

Isra Isle (2005) by Nava Semel, translated by Jessica Cohen (Mandel Vilar Press, 2016).

“So what are we Jews doing in the chaotic Middle East when we could easily have been living peacefully in our state “Isra Isle”, near the Niagara Falls in America? This isn’t sheer fantasy. It could have happened! Behind Nava Semel’s novel lies a true historical episode. In 1825, Mordecai Manuel Noah, an American journalist, playwright and diplomat, bought Grand Island, downriver from the Niagara Falls, as a place of refuge for his people. But no Jew answered his call. Noah became a footnote in history and the option for a Jewish state in North America was washed away to oblivion by the tide of Zionism. Nava Semel has created an alternative history, a “what if” option. She takes upon herself a complex and challenging task, and stimulates new thinking about questions of memory, Jewish/Israeli identity, the attitude to minorities, women in top political positions, and the place of cultural heritage.”



The Ruined House by Ruby Namdar, translated by Hillel Halkin (Harper, 2017).

“Andrew P. Cohen, a professor of comparative culture at New York University, is at the zenith of his life. Adored by his classes and published in prestigious literary magazines, he is about to receive a coveted promotion—the crowning achievement of an enviable career. He is on excellent terms with Linda, his ex-wife, and his two grown children admire and adore him. His girlfriend, Ann Lee, a former student half his age, offers lively companionship. A man of elevated taste, education, and culture, he is a model of urbanity and success.But the manicured surface of his world begins to crack when he is visited by a series of strange and inexplicable visions involving an ancient religious ritual that will upend his comfortable life.”



The Coincidence Makers (2011) by Yoav Blum, translated by Ira Moskowitz (St. Martin’s Press, 2018).

“What if the drink you just spilled, the train you just missed, or the lottery ticket you just found was not just a random occurrence? What if it’s all part of a bigger plan? What if there’s no such thing as a chance encounter? What if there are people we don’t know determining our destiny? And what if they are even planning the fate of the world?

Enter the Coincidence Makers—Guy, Emily, and Eric—three seemingly ordinary people who work for a secret organization devoted to creating and carrying out coincidences. What the rest of the world sees as random occurrences, are, in fact, carefully orchestrated events designed to spark significant changes in the lives of their targets—scientists on the brink of breakthroughs, struggling artists starved for inspiration, loves to be, or just plain people like you and me…

When an assignment of the highest level is slipped under Guy’s door one night, he knows it will be the most difficult and dangerous coincidence he’s ever had to fulfill. But not even a coincidence maker can see how this assignment is about to change all their lives and teach them the true nature of fate, free will, and the real meaning of love.”


Muck (2016) by Dror Burstein, translated by Gabriel Levin (FSG, 2018).

“The hero of Burstein’s sixth novel is the prophet Jeremiah, a young poet who starts predicting a catastrophe. In the Jerusalem streets where he wanders, the citizens travel on the light-rail train and talk on cell phones, but the Temple is standing, King Jehoiakim lives in an ugly palace, and Jeremiah’s words demoralize the people. He warns that Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian army is going to surround the corrupted city, destroy it and send its population into exile. But no one listens, even when Babylonian helicopters and tanks are on the city outskirts. Jehoiakim then commits suicide and his crown passes to his son Jehoiachin, a talented pianist who is tricked into giving up his musical career in Vienna and flying back home. But his reign is short and his uncle, Zedekiah, takes power. Zedekiah is a successful poet who sports  tattoos and whose poems appear in prestigious journals. He is also a childhood friend of Jeremiah’s. But now that he is king, Zedekiah sees Jeremiah as a traitor and orders him to be thrown into a pit of muck. Fortunately, a pack of dogs, headed by a talking dog, saves the tormented prophet from drowning. Muck is a complex, brilliant and daring novel. Partly an attempt to rewrite the story of Jeremiah in modern dress, it may also be a chilling prophesy for contemporary Jerusalem. It invites the reader to re-assess the relevance of the biblical text today and to view the cyclical nature of history.”


The Heart of the Circle (2018) by Keren Landsman, translated by Daniella Zamir (Angry Robot, 2019).

“Throughout human history there have always been sorcerers, once idolised and now exploited for their powers. In Israel, the Sons of Simeon, a group of political extremists, persecute sorcerers while the government turns a blind eye. After a march for equal rights ends in brutal murder, empath, moodifier and reluctant waiter Reed becomes the next target. While his sorcerous and normie friends seek out his future killers, Reed complicates everything by falling hopelessly in love. As the battle for survival grows ever more personal, can Reed protect himself and his friends as the Sons of Simeon close in around them?”



Simantov by Asaf Ashery, translated by Marganit Weinberger-Rotman (Angry Robot Books, 2020).

Detectives Simantov and Bitton, along with their team of mystic agents, try to make sense of the weird crime scenes and even weirder forensic findings. The victims are seemingly unconnected and the only clues to their disappearances are the small objects they leave behind; a whip, a feather, a lock of hair… Together with Mazzy’s instincts and Yariv’s stubbornness, they realise that these abductions signal the start of an apocalypse – a war between opposing hosts of angels, the daughters of Lilith and the Nephilim. The battle for access to heaven is underway and humans are caught in the middle. But strong as they may be, angels will always underestimate the power and weight in human free will.







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