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Murderers

Dror Burstein
Murderers is a taut, wide-ranging novel that brings together the literary world and the legal system, and reveals the face of contemporary Israeli society. It revolves around a number of families among whom are the Levins and the Robinsons. Shraga Levin, a forgotten poet and former ultra-Orthodox Jew, has shut himself up in his Jerusalem home; his wife Leah is a prestigious lawyer, while their son Lori, a penniless poet, lives off his mother. The Robinson family has a quite different background. Malkiel, an officer in the Israeli army, suffered a major breakdown and was committed to a mental institution. His wife, Varda, fled to Australia; one son, Gadi, fell in the Lebanon War, and the other, Shaul, is a pitiful, failed literary critic.
The events in the book take place during a seemingly ordinary day, part-way between the death of poet David Avidan and the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. The day begins with Leah Levin's death in a road accident, but its main thrust is a literary crime. Lori Levin has always resented his father Shraga's poetic talent. In fact, he has taken poems from Shraga's major collection, The City, and included them in his own new book. In order to cover his tracks, Lori has already bought up all the copies of his father’s book that he can find and thrown them into the sea. Now, by playing on literary critic Shaul Robinson's weakness - his passion for books – Lori persuades him to break into his father's home in Jerusalem. Among the books he wants Shaul to steal is the one that he must still destroy – the last existing copy of The City.
Murderers is filled with fascinating ideas, and each of its characters provides us with different insights into the literary in-fighting as well as legal rivalries in Israel's close-knit society. Cleverly pulling together the many lives that it follows in their aspirations and despair, this novel portrays the corruption and internal collapse of both literary and legal worlds.


PARTIAL ENGLISH TRANSLATION AVAILABLE (for publishers only).


There are some books - all too rare, unfortunately - that reviewers are lucky not only to read but to be asked to review by their editor … Few are the books that manage to burst the boundaries established by the author and to take on a life of their own, those that throw off the shackles and charge ahead into unknown territory to conquer the hearts and minds of readers. Murderers is such a book. It is one of the most outstanding works of fiction that has been written here in recent years … Murderers is a brilliant novel, a kind of strangely enchanting Israeli Ulysses; a book that you start but never finish because you keep going back to read it again; a text rich in literary theft that is original, wise, ironic, funny, grotesque, clever and above all, self-aware; a book that tests the limits of literary creativity, but above all the limits within which the book itself operates … Murderers is a novel mined from rare literary materials, a novel that is linguistically rich, that sweep the readers along on a journey into the unembellished innards of Israeli reality … Dror Burstein paints a fascinating picture of the social, cultural, economic, moral and literary dimensions of Israeli life that is intensely critical yet surprisingly enjoyable.

Reuven Miran, Haaretz


For me, this is the greatest realist novel ever written in Hebrew. No less. Six-hundred and fifty pages that evoke a cry of wonderment and provide a reading experience that I have not encountered in any other book … This novel had the good fortune to be written by one of the most virtuoso authors to have arisen in Hebrew literature since Yaakov Shabtai … An operatic work in all ways. It has everything in it … Reading Murderers is like a mass literary orgy that doesn’t leave the reader drowsy … The multitude of episodes that surround the plot constitute the main strength of the novel. There is a virtuoso brilliance in their ability to grip the reader through entire pages. Burstein encircles Murderers with innumerable passages so full of imagination that they leave the reader stunned … There are none too many monumental works like this, that are built of thousands of blocks of thought, feeling, humor and imagination. And although there are many works of literature that arouse envy of their authors, in the case of Murderers it is clear in advance that Burstein’s phenomenal ability is far from attainable.  

Yakir Ben-Moshe, Time Out

A superb work … Murderers, Dror Burstein’s third book of prose, makes its writer, as of now, the most interesting author in Israel in the post-Orly Castel-Bloom generation. This is a statement full of pathos, but sometimes there is no way to avoid being full of pathos … Why is the novel so good? … Murderers is the funniest Israeli book I’ve read in years. And I am talking about uncontrollable, out-loud laughter … Burstein’s book is one of the few certain accomplishments of young Israeli literature by the children of the 1970s.  

Arik Glasner, Maariv

I do not want to write a critique of Murderers, the new book by Dror Burstein.  That is to say, I do want to write a critique of it because I want you to read it, but I don’t want to critique it because I am afraid that I will do it wrong, and because I have waited so long for it to come out, and now that it has come out it is like a gift and there is enjoyment in lingering before opening it, and mainly because I want to keep it, or at least parts of it, to myself … One can voyage on this book, as if over the waves.   

Asaf Schurr, HaIr

The architectural structure of Murders is tangled and complex, and it is impossible not to wonder at Burstein’s assembly work ... With his comprehensive cultural erudition; with his virtuoso skill at orchestrating a very long novel in which there are dozens of characters and plot twists and the time periods are mixed; with his wild humor, his tendency for parody, the talent for imitation that he displays; with his ability to depart from the bounds of quotidian reality into the spheres of illusion and dreams, and with his accounts of the dark and irrational aspects of the human soul – with all of these, Burstein places himself upon one of the highest levels of contemporary Hebrew literature. There are several thrilling moments in Murderers.

Avi Garfinkel, Keshet HaChadasha

There are people whose writing I love and I wait for them to produce. I liked Murderers by Dror Burstein enormously.

Prof. Dan Miron, Makor Rishon

A brilliant novel-puzzle … As you read, the pieces gradually join with the solid structure … The virtuoso stylistic design is a cause for celebration for all those who inhabit our literary swamp, or are familiar with it. These especially are likely to enjoy the razor-sharp discernment with which the text abounds, the trenchant formulations, the irony and the wild humor. Burstein is revealed, in his second novel, as an author with great talent and gigantic potential.

Haya Hoffman, Yedioth Ahronoth

A wonderful storyteller … Dror Burstein possess a literary talent that is rare in our locality.

Maya Feldman, Ynet

 

It is difficult to disagree with the claim that Dror Burstein’s new novel is a masterwork ... From within the text, emerges the figure of a highly intelligent writer, airy, with an enhanced sense of humor, very aware of himself … There is in Dror Burstein, apart from his broad erudition, an intriguing wildness. 

Menahem Ben, Maariv

Dror Burstein’s Murderers is a profound and challenging work … The book is mesmerizing …Burstein’s heroes are depicted with a superb irony and much ardor.

Maya Sela, Iton Tel Aviv

 

Murderers is replete with parodying situations, and Burstein’s language is complex, impressive and a vehicle for black humor … At the novel’s climactic moments, Burstein succeeds in touching the essences of Israeli society. He defines what good writing should be … These moments indicate to us that Burstein is one of the authors who will contribute to the language of the coming generation of Israeli writers.

Mati Shemoelof, Maariv NRG

This book, perhaps surprisingly, is a very funny book … Murderers carefully and constantly maintains a distance between it and its readers. The distance is composed of the stylistic and architectural virtuosity of the novel, which makes the reader move through it like a tourist in a beautiful city, that’s to say to read it but at the same time also to look at it, from a little way outside it, all the time in wonderment.  

Alex Ben-Ari, WordPress

I recommend Murderers, Dror Burstein’s mesmerizing book, which is actually an incursion into the crannies of Israeli society, from a literary point of view. A profound book, thought-provoking and riveting.

Colette Avital, Maariv

 

It’s hard to classify Burstein in contemporary Israeli literature: genius, collector of information, virtuoso at the art of the novel … Murderers, although it is a novel with ambitions, is an original literary work … A reading undertaking that is almost impossible but decidedly rewarding.

Makor Rishon


Murders
Title Murderers
Author’s Last Name Burstein
Author's First Name Dror
Genre novel
Publisher (Hebrew) Babel
Year of Publication (Hebrew) 2006
No. Pages 652 pp.
Book title - Hebrew (phonetic) Ha-Rotzchim
Representation Represented by ITHL

Translations

 
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