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Chelm – A Tale of One City

Chelm. We see only its broad back, unable to discern where its gaze is directed. Chelm is a city unlike all others, for beyond it lies nothing: it physically separates us from the void. Chelm is
known in Jewish folklore as a city of fools. But the truth of Chelm is much darker—its inhabitants harbor an ancient and fearsome metaphysical wisdom beneath a facade of folly. If we dare
to look directly at this wisdom, we risk being blinded. Yaniv Hagbi’s novel weaves the stories of Chelm into a dizzying plot. It focuses on the tale of the son of the Chelm blacksmith, who seeks to save his soul from the city’s grotesque logic. He is exiled to the neighboring city of Z, where logic and practical reasoning prevail. But the city of Z cannot endure life alongside the spiraling spectacle of folly for long, and the blacksmith’s son is forced to return to Chelm one last time— this time as the leader of Z’s inhabitants, to fight against his birthplace and destroy it. Yaniv Hagbi teaches at the University of Amsterdam. He is the author of the novels The Yemenite Guide to Writing Fairy Tales (Babel, 2009) and The Leviathan Library (Keter, 2017).

Title Chelm – A Tale of One City
Writer's Last Name Hagbi
Writer's First Name Yaniv
Genre Fiction
Publisher (Hebrew) Afik
No. Pages 265pp.
Book title - Hebrew (phonetic) Maashe Chelem
  • “Review for The Yemenite Guide to Writing Legends
    “A complex, all-encompassing book. An
    overflowing amalgam of consciousness
    components, and funny to boot.” ”