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The Grand Circus of Ideas

Miki Ben-Cnaan
Two aging women are found dead in a surrealistic old-age home in Jerusalem. One, a resident, is wearing a tattered elephant costume; next to her, an unknown woman is dressed up as a doll, in a frock with golden buttons and patent leather shoes. Although the cause of death is clear—asphyxiation from a gas heater—no one can explain why they look like they have just run away from a circus. Thus begins a gripping mystery, the story of four residents who met in the home fifteen years earlier and established a choir, which inspired them and gave their lives new meaning. As the enterprise progresses, with songs ranging from Israeli classics to weird and charming rap, we hear their tragic yet miraculous life stories, full of twists, turns and magical realism which takes us back to the madness and radicalism of the 20th century. One woman was sent to the gas chambers as a child, but was saved by her elephant costume and a flock of crows that lifted her into the air and carried her away from the inferno. Another resident is a lapsed monk who has strange visions. An amazing novel, in which the taken-for-granted becomes miraculous, and the surreal—flying elephants, chairs sprouting from a cherry tree—seems plausible. All together form colorful links suggesting the continuity of human memory based on great ideologies that either propel humanity forward or shatter it.

A book like this should be greeted with cheers... Ben-Cnaan stretches the imagination in an awe-inspiring way.

Gripping. A superb, intriguing story... There is something hypnotic in Ben-Caan's writing.

Imagination, daring, and a great deal of originality.
Time Out

Title The Grand Circus of Ideas
Author’s Last Name Ben-Cnaan
Author's First Name Miki
Language(s) Hebrew, Italian
Genre novel
Publisher (Hebrew) Achuzat Bayit
Year of Publication (Hebrew) 2011
No. Pages 422
Book title - Hebrew (phonetic) Ha-Kirkas Ha-Gadol Shel Ha-Raʹayonot
Representation Represented by ITHL


Italian: Florence, Giuntina, 2014
Congratulations to Zeruya Shalev and Shifra Horn for receiving the 2017 Adei Wizo Prize.

Ayelet Gundar-Goshen's "Waking Lions" is longlisted for the 2018 International Dublin Literary Award
Ayelet Gundar-Goshen's "Waking Lions" is longlisted for the 2018 International Dublin Literary Award! The books on the longlist are selected by 400 libraries worldwide. Titles are nominated on the basis of ‘high literary merit’ as determined by the nominating library.
The second edition of the Letters of Israel festival will take place in Paris from September 8 to 18, 2017
After the success of its first edition, the Lettres d'Israël festival is gaining momentum, with an enriched program: meetings, conversations, readings , Theater, major authors and discoveries. Zeruya Shalev, Orly Castel-bloom, Ayelet Gundar-Goshen, Iris Argaman, and many more will participate. Click here for the full program:
Call for application: Artists in Residence Programme in Austria. Please note the deadline: September 18th, 2017.
In co-operation with KulturKontakt Austria, the Austrian Federal Chancellery makes available 50 residencies to visual artists / art photographers / composers / video and media artists / writers / literary translators and arts and cultural educators in Vienna and Salzburg for the year 2018. For more details:
Yizhak Mayer: "Meet the Author" Event
Ambassador Yizhak Mayer, author of the moving book “Silent Letter” will hold a “meet the author” event in Netanya. For further info about the event: And for more details about the title click here:
ITHL director on Grossman's win
"Grossman winning is not only his own achievement, but the achievement of the Hebrew literature as a whole", - Nilli Cohen on the first Hebrew author to receive Man Booker International Prize. Click here for the full article in Hebrew.
Chana Bloch dies at 77
Chana Bloch, a revered poet and translator from Hebrew and Yiddish, has sadly passed away earlier this month. Among her many remarkable achievements is the wonderful translation of a collection of poems by Dahlia Ravikovitch​ (W. W. Norton & Company). Chana will be greatly missed.
Yitzchak Mayer's personal website goes live
English edition of Yitzchak Mayer's amazing "Silent Letter" is about to come out with Mosaic Press. Learn more about the author's incredible life story on his brand new website.
Dayan on feminism and writing
Following the release of "Transitions" in English, Yael Dayan talks to Lilith Magazine about her past aspirations and present pursuits. Click here to read the full interview.
Gundar-Goshen's Op-Ed for Time
To mark the US publication of "Waking Lions" Ayelet Gundar-Goshen talks about the refugee crisis, internal walls and people behind them in the op-ed for Time. Click here to read the article.
MHL - New webzine starting soon!