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A Circus in Tel Aviv

Yaakov Shabtai
Shabtai wrote his brilliant collection of stories, Uncle Peretz Takes Off, about the early days of Tel Aviv shortly before he began work on his masterpiece, Past Continuous. In this new selection from Uncle Peretz, his protagonists - who live in a surrealistic, quixotic world of their own - take off from their drab surroundings in small-town Tel Aviv of the 1940s and soar into fantasies where they change the world, the country and their personal lives. Among these tragi-comic characters, we find Uncle Pinnek, the eternal dreamer who wants to start a Jewish circus in Tel Aviv; Uncle Shmuel, who moves house all the time with his wife complaining that "his imagination will lead [them] to the grave;" and the ribald Tamara Bell who poses for artists and suddenly dies, in the last story in the book. Their fantasies, which always have an erotic streak, float in a heaven of longing but they are also an abyss the characters fall into as they sleepwalk past the limits of gravity, refuse to admit failure and drag others along with them.
In all of the stories, Shabtai portrays his heroes` way of life and their inner world with great subtlety; his perspective is ironic, yet at the same time infinitely gentle and compassionate. The tale of Tamara`s death ends with a phrase that pinpoints all of the characters` aspirations: "Welcome to New York," it says. This is the thread that connects the stories: death and dreams, two ways of escaping from life. Thus this book becomes a metaphor for all Israeli reality, where every foundation stone stands next to an open grave.

One of the most important pioneers of Israeli literature… A blend of local realism with fantasy à la Fellini and Marx.
These stories are not only heartrending, clever and funny, but also complex and highly sophisticated. Their greatness lies in Shabtai’s mischievous and cunning storytelling ability… They have hypnotic power. 
Reading the stories in A Circus in Tel Aviv reminds us that this is the real thing: a fascinating and profoundly beautiful literary work of art. 

A Circus in Tel Aviv
Title A Circus in Tel Aviv
Author’s Last Name Shabtai
Author's First Name Yaakov
Genre stories
Publisher (Hebrew) Hakibbutz Hameuchad/ Siman Kriah
Year of Publication (Hebrew) 2006
No. Pages 124 pp.
Book title - Hebrew (phonetic) Kirkas Be-Tel-Aviv
Representation Represented by ITHL


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The prize is given to a translator whose career has demonstrated a commitment to excellence through the body of their work. Barbara Harshav has been translating works from French, German, Hebrew and Yiddish for over twenty years and has currently published over forty books of translation. Among the many Hebrew authors she has translated: Yoram Kaniuk, Agnon, Yehudit Hendel, Yehuda Amichai and many more.
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The fourth German-Hebrew/Hebrew-German translation workshop April 29 to May 5, 2018 Beit Ben-Yehuda, Jerusalem
After workshops in Berlin, Jerusalem and Straelen, the workshop will return to Jerusalem this spring. This workshop will focus on the participants translations. These are unfinished translations that have not yet been published. These will be sent to all participants. The workshop is open to 10 participants and is intended for literary translators with experience and publications. Workshop facilitators: Anne Birkenhauer and Gadi Goldberg Prerequisites: At least one published translation Duration: Sunday, April 29, 2018 until Saturday, May 5, 2018 Location: Beit Ben-Yehuda, 28 Ein Gedi St., 93383 Jerusalem Participation fee: Participation (Accommodation and meals) is free of charge. Travel / flight expenses will be refunded. For more details and for the documents required for submitting application: Anne Birkenhauer, and Gadi Goldberg,
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Ayelet Gundar-Goshen's "Waking Lions" is longlisted for the 2018 International Dublin Literary Award
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