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Blood Ties

Ayman Sikseck


Wahid Atef is a young Arab chemistry lecturer at Haifa University. One day he finds an old photo of a young woman in his mother’s clothes closet at her home in Jaffa. The discovery disturbs him, and awakens a dormant family secret.

Wahid decides to renew his connection with his older brother, Zohir, who is in jail. He writes him a letter, after a lengthy period of time during which there has been no contact between them. He asks Zohir to tell him what he knows about their aunt, Nadia, who was murdered forty years before and whose death has always been shrouded in an oppressive silence. But Zohir doesn’t acquiesce. Their mother also refuses to tell him the story of her dead sister. Even Wahid’s wife hides something from him. All of this intensifies his curiosity. The investigation of the family secret grips him, and gradually he comes closer to learning what it is, only to realize that the discovery will change not only his own life but the whole family’s life. Was Nadia murdered because her husband, who was from Gaza, thought she was betraying him, or because she opposed his nationalistic activities? Either way, Wahid’s attempts to grasp the circumstances of his aunt’s death becomes an examination of his own identity.  

Blood Ties is a novel about a family in which concealment and falsehood are passed down from generation to generation like a cursed inheritance. The heroes of the book long to reach out and touch their loved ones but time and again they fail: letters get to the wrong people, phone calls aren’t picked up, and garbled memories become facts. The book takes its readers on the characters’ journeys between Jaffa and Haifa, Gaza and the Galilee village of Eilabun, and between the characters' consciousness. They find themselves trying to reach a historical truth which apparently had its beginnings in a Jaffa orange grove that a middleman was trying to sell to Jews, a truth whose end is unknown.

Ayman Sikseck, writing in a lyrical Hebrew about characters who are for the most part Israeli-Arabs, marvelously tells about people whose national identity has been branded onto the stories of their lives and has determined their fate.





A unique literary accomplishment. An excellent novel and a must read.

Author Nir Baram


Blood Ties is a family-national novel woven with great sophistication and talent, and it places Sikseck right in the heart of the arena of contemporary Hebrew literature. In many ways, Sikseck is continuing the literary revolution that Anton Shammas began with his novel Arabesques … Blood Ties does a good job of depicting Palestinian characters at all levels of their society.

Vered Lee, Haaretz


It is a pleasure to write about a book that is at the top of the bestsellers lists and that deserves to be there. That doesn’t happen often. It is also a pleasure to write about a book in which the author shows such an impressive step of development after his previous work. That too does not happen often. Blood Ties tells one of the most intricate and sophisticated stories that have been written in Hebrew in recent years; this sophistication, however, does not for a moment eclipse the dark and wild side of the plot …  The novel’s plot is in my opinion the source of its strength … Unlike a common detective story, in which the suspense it contains serves only to keep the reader in suspense, Sikseck here has constructed tension that takes one to multi-layered personalities … The plot of Blood Ties unfolds and creates complexity gradually … But the secret of the book’s power is the way in which a cocoon of secrecy enfolds the characters … In this way, we get a thrilling psychological novel with a tight, cleverly built structure. .. The more I read, the more my respect grew for the way in which Sikseck copes with the tension between Arabs and Jews in Israel … This is a good, profound book … The  hidden and tortuous motives of human beings occupy the author no less than the Arab society in Israel, the Arab family, and the Arabic language. Sikseck has written a superb and subtle novel that is about people, and only after that also a courageous novel about Arab people in Israel. 

Nissim Calderon, Walla


Before starting to read Ayman Sikseck’s lyrical and moving book, which is at the top of the bestseller lists, you should take a lot of deep breaths. You’ll need the air to help you handle the intense descriptive style which the author has chosen in order to recount the life stories of his characters, the members of an Israeli Arab family … Sikseck uses a gamut of literary means in order to leave the reader tense and empathetic …A detective story full of contrasts.   

Osnat Blair, Calcalist


The book touches upon the huge, burning truth of the lives of the Arab citizens of this country – and leaves the reader scalded. The perpetual sorrow, the yearning for a fuller, more harmonious existence, the flight from the pain to palliatives of various kinds … Ayman Sikseck is critical of both the Arabs and the Jews.

Chayuta Deutsch, Makor Rishon


Sikseck makes multiple uses of silence in his novel, situations in which no reply is forthcoming and key details are not revealed and will seemingly always be hidden. In this way, a gripping array of close-ups and distances, of presence and absence, is created, something that gives the novel its dramatic power … Blood Ties is a powerfully expressed novel, combining family drama with elements of mystery; very Israeli, up-to-date, creating an interesting synergy between the political and the human.       

Yotam Shwimmer, Ynet


In accessible and fluent style and with considerable talent, Blood Ties has landed right in the center of the literary arena … Everyone is allocating all due respect to this family story, in which the personal and the national are interwoven inextricably. There are secrets concealed deep in the heart of the plot and their gradual unveiling jolts all those involved. And nevertheless, although Blood Ties can check all of these boxes and meet the all criteria with notable success, at the same time it is undermining them and presenting an alternative narrative to the mediocre standard that is typical of the mainstream family novel and the feeble secrets it contains … Sikseck created the character Wahid as a clever mixture of vulnerability and violence, a figure with whom it is impossible not to identify, and at the same time to recoil from and dislike … Blood Ties  is a thoughtful and melancholic portrait of masculinity in crisis … This feeling is intensified by Sikseck’s ability to embellish the harsh and violent moments with delicate imagery.     

Neta Halperin, Israel Hayom


The book shows a great ability to control the plot, and also a very great ability to create interplay of characters, complex allusions to the political and social situation in Israel. Another thing that impressed me in particular about this book is the way in which Ayman writes interesting female characters, credible and complex. This is a story that contains many nuances, and Ayman writes them so very well.

Author Nir Baram, Maariv Nrg


A very beautiful book, read voraciously up to its surprising ending. 

Avner Shapira, Haaretz


Ayman Sikseck’s writing is sensitive, brilliant, and it builds a composite and refined perspective of the painful seam lines between the lives of Arabs and Jews in this country. Sikseck has made the world of Jaffa in his books into a narrative arena fraught with symbols and intersecting fates that constitute a prism of unmatched delicacy of both the Israeli-Arab conflict and the possibility of living together in this region.

The Prime Minister's Prize Committee, December 2016

This novel penetrates your soul … It’s plot is unfolded for the reader in a variety of what are customarily referred to as literary “tricks”, but it does not arouse any sense of these being literary deceptions. The chapters follow each other naturally, developing the plot, presenting the characters in a different light each time and eliciting identification and interest that gradually builds up. …  Ayman Sikseck depicts not only his belonging to this country as an Israeli Arab, but also the intolerable difficulty faced by someone who is part of a minority living in its own motherland. He does this obliquely, delicately and thereby only increases the intensity of the situation … I recommend Blood Ties, a very worthy book.   

Ofra Offer Oren, Literary Blog


An unrestrained, airy, vibrant reading experience … There’s an element of cunning in this book that contributes to its general strength. Because underneath the personal lives of individuals flows the current of the national reality.

Arik Glasner, Yedioth Ahronoth


A remarkable book.

Yaron London, Channel 2 TV


Outstandingly done … Beyond the literary achievement, the book is very Israeli … Warmly recommended.

Keren Neubach, Kol Israel


Written with a marvelous delicacy, despite the fraught subjects it deals with.

Maya Levin, Laisha


This is a wonderful book about the investigation of family secrets … It must be read slowly, to enjoy the lyrical prose and to let the suspense and intrigue fill you up and give you pleasure.

Meirav Golan, E-mago


Sikseck has a voice of his own, one that it worth getting to know.

Shiri Zuck, Blazer

Title Blood Ties
Author’s Last Name Sikseck
Author's First Name Ayman
Language(s) Hebrew
Genre novel
Publisher (Hebrew) Achuzat Bayit
Year of Publication (Hebrew) 2016
No. Pages 223 pp.
Book title - Hebrew (phonetic) Tishrin
Representation Represented by ITHL
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