is a taut, wide-ranging novel that brings together the literary world and the legal system, and reveals the face of contemporary Israeli society. It revolves around a number of families among whom are the Levins and the Robinsons. Shraga Levin, a forgotten poet and former ultra-Orthodox Jew, has shut himself up in his Jerusalem home; his wife Leah is a prestigious lawyer, while their son Lori, a penniless poet, lives off his mother. The Robinson family has a quite different background. Malkiel, an officer in the Israeli army, suffered a major breakdown and was committed to a mental institution. His wife, Varda, fled to Australia; one son, Gadi, fell in the Lebanon War, and the other, Shaul, is a pitiful, failed literary critic.
The events in the book take place during a seemingly ordinary day, part-way between the death of poet David Avidan and the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. The day begins with Leah Levin's death in a road accident, but its main thrust is a literary crime. Lori Levin has always resented his father Shraga's poetic talent. In fact, he has taken poems from Shraga's major collection, The City
, and included them in his own new book. In order to cover his tracks, Lori has already bought up all the copies of his father’s book that he can find and thrown them into the sea. Now, by playing on literary critic Shaul Robinson's weakness - his passion for books – Lori persuades him to break into his father's home in Jerusalem. Among the books he wants Shaul to steal is the one that he must still destroy – the last existing copy of The City
is filled with fascinating ideas, and each of its characters provides us with different insights into the literary in-fighting as well as legal rivalries in Israel's close-knit society. Cleverly pulling together the many lives that it follows in their aspirations and despair, this novel portrays the corruption and internal collapse of both literary and legal worlds.
PARTIAL ENGLISH TRANSLATION AVAILABLE (for publishers only).
some books - all too rare, unfortunately - that reviewers are lucky not only to
read but to be asked to review by their editor … Few are the books that manage
to burst the boundaries established by the author and to take on a life of
their own, those that throw off the shackles and charge ahead into unknown
territory to conquer the hearts and minds of readers. Murderers is such
a book. It is one of the most outstanding works of fiction that has been
written here in recent years … Murderers is a brilliant novel, a kind of
strangely enchanting Israeli Ulysses; a book that you start but never finish
because you keep going back to read it again; a text rich in literary theft
that is original, wise, ironic, funny, grotesque, clever and above all,
self-aware; a book that tests the limits of literary creativity, but above all
the limits within which the book itself operates … Murderers is a novel
mined from rare literary materials, a novel that is linguistically rich, that
sweep the readers along on a journey into the unembellished innards of Israeli
reality … Dror Burstein paints a fascinating picture of the social, cultural,
economic, moral and literary dimensions of Israeli life that is intensely
critical yet surprisingly enjoyable.
Reuven Miran, Haaretz
For me, this is the greatest realist novel ever written
in Hebrew. No less. Six-hundred and fifty pages that evoke a cry of wonderment
and provide a reading experience that I have not encountered in any other book
… This novel had the good fortune to be written by one of the most virtuoso
authors to have arisen in Hebrew literature since Yaakov Shabtai … An operatic work in all ways. It has everything in it …
Reading Murderers is like a mass literary orgy that doesn’t leave the
reader drowsy … The multitude of episodes that surround the plot constitute the
main strength of the novel. There is a virtuoso brilliance in their ability to
grip the reader through entire pages. Burstein encircles Murderers with
innumerable passages so full of imagination that they leave the reader stunned
… There are none too many monumental works like this, that are built of
thousands of blocks of thought, feeling, humor and imagination. And although there
are many works of literature that arouse envy of their authors, in the case of Murderers
it is clear in advance that Burstein’s phenomenal ability is far from
Yakir Ben-Moshe, Time Out
A superb work … Murderers, Dror Burstein’s third
book of prose, makes its writer, as of now, the most interesting author in
Israel in the post-Orly Castel-Bloom generation. This is a statement full of pathos,
but sometimes there is no way to avoid being full of pathos … Why is the novel
so good? … Murderers is the funniest Israeli book I’ve read in years.
And I am talking about uncontrollable, out-loud laughter … Burstein’s book is
one of the few certain accomplishments of young Israeli literature by the
children of the 1970s.
Arik Glasner, Maariv
I do not want to write a critique of Murderers,
the new book by Dror Burstein. That is
to say, I do want to write a critique of it because I want you to read it, but
I don’t want to critique it because I am afraid that I will do it wrong, and
because I have waited so long for it to come out, and now that it has come out
it is like a gift and there is enjoyment in lingering before opening it, and
mainly because I want to keep it, or at least parts of it, to myself … One can
voyage on this book, as if over the waves.
Asaf Schurr, HaIr
The architectural structure of Murders is tangled
and complex, and it is impossible not to wonder at Burstein’s assembly work ...
With his comprehensive cultural erudition; with his virtuoso skill at
orchestrating a very long novel in which there are dozens of characters and
plot twists and the time periods are mixed; with his wild humor, his tendency
for parody, the talent for imitation that he displays; with his ability to
depart from the bounds of quotidian reality into the spheres of illusion and
dreams, and with his accounts of the dark and irrational aspects of the human
soul – with all of these, Burstein places himself upon one of the highest
levels of contemporary Hebrew literature. There are several thrilling moments
Avi Garfinkel, Keshet HaChadasha
There are people whose writing I love and I wait for
them to produce. I liked Murderers by Dror Burstein enormously.
Prof. Dan Miron, Makor Rishon
A brilliant novel-puzzle … As you read, the pieces
gradually join with the solid structure … The virtuoso stylistic design is a
cause for celebration for all those who inhabit our literary swamp, or are
familiar with it. These especially are likely to enjoy the razor-sharp
discernment with which the text abounds, the trenchant formulations, the irony
and the wild humor. Burstein is revealed, in his second novel, as an author
with great talent and gigantic potential.
Haya Hoffman, Yedioth Ahronoth
A wonderful storyteller … Dror Burstein possess a
literary talent that is rare in our locality.
Maya Feldman, Ynet
It is difficult to disagree with the claim that Dror
Burstein’s new novel is a masterwork ... From within the text, emerges the
figure of a highly intelligent writer, airy, with an enhanced sense of humor,
very aware of himself … There is in Dror Burstein, apart from his broad
erudition, an intriguing wildness.
Menahem Ben, Maariv
Dror Burstein’s Murderers is a profound and
challenging work … The book is mesmerizing …Burstein’s heroes are depicted with
a superb irony and much ardor.
Maya Sela, Iton Tel Aviv
Murderers is replete with parodying
situations, and Burstein’s language is complex, impressive and a vehicle for
black humor … At the novel’s climactic moments, Burstein succeeds in touching
the essences of Israeli society. He defines what good writing should be … These
moments indicate to us that Burstein is one of the authors who will contribute
to the language of the coming generation of Israeli writers.
Mati Shemoelof, Maariv NRG
This book, perhaps surprisingly, is a very funny book … Murderers
carefully and constantly maintains a distance between it and its readers. The
distance is composed of the stylistic and architectural virtuosity of the
novel, which makes the reader move through it like a tourist in a beautiful
city, that’s to say to read it but at the same time also to look at it, from a
little way outside it, all the time in wonderment.
Alex Ben-Ari, WordPress
I recommend Murderers, Dror Burstein’s
mesmerizing book, which is actually an incursion into the crannies of Israeli
society, from a literary point of view. A profound book, thought-provoking and
Colette Avital, Maariv
It’s hard to classify Burstein in contemporary Israeli
literature: genius, collector of information, virtuoso at the art of the novel
… Murderers, although it is a novel with ambitions, is an original
literary work … A reading undertaking that is almost impossible but decidedly