"The Street of Steps was not really a street, but rather an alley of steps, with houses crowded one on top of another, leaving no space for light or air to penetrate."
This alley runs through the slum below Mount Carmel, in Haifa. On the mountain above, the white villas of the wealthy overlook the sea. And between these two sites of natural beauty lies the teeming slum with its constant struggle for food and shelter. This is the setting for the love between Avram Bakhar, the son of a poor Mizrahi store owner, and Erella Dagan, the daughter of an affluent Ashkenazi contractor. In their love affair, old values clash with new ideas in the young state of Israel.
This is a violent novel - violent in its emotions and in its action. The events it describes range from the battlefields of Egypt, Italy and France during World War II to the battlefields of Israel`s struggle for independence, and later its war with the neighboring Arab states.
After the fighting, new and equally serious problems arose for Israel, and Hendel makes two of them her major theme - the clash between native sabras and immigrants, and the enormous adjustments to be made by fighting men and women.
In this major novel of the 1950s, Hendel`s pages overflow with anger against war, poverty, hypocrisy, class and ethnic differences.
One of the best novels to come to us from Israel ... exceptionally well-written.
Detroit Jewish News (1964)
Unromanticized insights into the problems of people of disparate backgrounds.
This novel does not gloss over the truth. If Erella, from her pine-laden home on the heights, casts her eye on a young sailor from below, then the social barricades are up...The patent truth, honesty and sincerity of Street of Steps are worth ten [other books].
Jewish Quarterly (1964)
An important Israeli novel.
Jewish Observer & Middle East Review (1964)
English translation available (for publishers only)