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Feathers

Haim Be’er
This first novel has come to be considered one of the most outstanding novels about Jerusalem. With its characters and episodes taken from the city's recent past, it is nevertheless more than a period piece. The story is told from the viewpoint of a naive boy growing up in an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood. The eccentric visionary Leader is only one of the portraits of bizarre characters which the city has always attracted. There are Esperantists, vegetarians, devotees of the Hapsburg Emperor Franz Josef, and many more. These portraits, both humorous and macabre, balance the pathetic ones. This mixture comes into its own in the boy's adult existence, when he emerges from the cocoon of his background and becomes a member of a military burial team during the 1973 Yom Kippur war. The obsession with death and the dead underlies the visionary flights of imagination which animate the religious and secular Jews of Jerusalem.    

Feathers was an instant bestseller and  received great critical acclaim. The literary scholar Dov Sadan compared Be'er's writing to Agnon's. The critic David Fishelov noted the author's architectural virtuosity, revealed in the gradual unfolding of the plot. Literary scholar Gershon Shaked stated: "The strength of the book lies in its depiction of Jerusalem…  Be’er has an eye for the comic, an ability to restrain pathos and introduce grotesque elements…This is an important landmark in Hebrew fiction."


Title Feathers
Author’s Last Name Be’er
Author's First Name Haim
Language(s) English, German, Dutch
Genre novel
Publisher (Hebrew) Am Oved
Year of Publication (Hebrew) 1979
Publisher 2 (Hebrew) Am Oved/ Yedioth Ahronoth
Year of Publication 2 (Hebrew) 2010
No. Pages 247 pp.
Book title - Hebrew (phonetic) Notzot
Representation Represented by ITHL

Translations

Dutch: Amsterdam, Vasallucci, 2000
German: Munich, dtv, 2002
English: Hanover/London, Brandeis University Press/ University Press of New England, 2004

Russian: Moscow, Knizhniki, forthcoming

 
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