by Julie HaleAugust, 2007
A Woman in Jerusalem
This bold and captivating novel from one of Israel's leading writers is sure to resonate with readers. When a beautiful Eastern European named Yulia Ragayev is killed in a terrorist bombing in Israel, her body goes unclaimed in the morgue. Yulia worked for a Jerusalem bakery, and, in the end, her body was identified only thanks to the stub of her paycheck. Her story is soon in the news, as a local paper vilifies the bakery for its lack of concern over her death. The owner of the bakery, a wealthy 87-year-old man (he is unnamed, like everyone else in the novel except Yulia), is soon roused to action, enlisting his human resources manager to find out about Yulia's death and return her body to her homeland so that she can have a proper funeral. This quest leads the human resources manager to Eastern Europe and Yulia's birthplace, where, as it turns out, she had a son, an ex-husband and a mother. The reasons she came to Israel remain unclear, as does much else about Yulia. This astute novel has touches of the surreal that lift it out of the realm of the literal. Yet there is no mistaking its timeliness. Yehoshua writes from a global perspective, offering a profound narrative about the crossing of borders and cultures. A reading group guide is available online at www.harcourtbooks.com.