The Collector deals with the new religion - the stock exchange and its prophet, Kenard Berenson. The "bank" at the center of the plot conducts most of its business outside office hours, in clients' homes or beside their hospital beds, yet it is full of activity. The story of the "bank" is both a satire about finance in Israel, as well as a metaphor for the death of Yiddish culture and the effort to preserve and document the memories of the lost world of European Jewry. In The Collector everyone is either documenting something or founding a museum. The stock exchange itself is a memorial to the Jewish townlet. Birstein's books, some of which are translated from Yiddish, have found a special place in Hebrew literature. Forgotten areas are revealed as essential - if grotesque - aspects of Israeli reality, expressed in what critics have acclaimed as an absolutely masterly manner. The various layers of meaning are hinted at with the consummate skill of one who knows perfectly where and when to close the circle. The novel has a rhythm all its own, created by a narrator who speaks in several voices. This is a funny and pathetic story, which may one day be considered prophetic.
English translation available (for publishers only)