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From one of Israel's leading investigative journalists, piercingly honest portraits of Israeli men and women who, in the face of brutal and desperate forces, try—often without success—to hold onto their past, their identity, their sanity, and their hope.
The son of a Holocaust survivor descends into paranoia, “swept away like a demon—ravaged refugee ship”; a Bedouin boy kills his father with a stone; a Russian immigrant crashes his car—his sole, proud possession—and vanishes into the desert; a veteran is left with agonizing memories of his fallen comrades in the Yom Kippur War; a senior army officer who grew up believing himself to be an orphan discovers his mother living among Arabs in Jordan.
These are just a few of the people whose stories make up this stunning book. Brilliantly, Igal Sarna lets their unexpected and harrowing tales speak for themselves, carefully weaving individual voices into a narrative of shattering power. Like no other book before it, The Man Who Fell into a Puddle reveals the profound human suffering at the heart of the process of creating the Israeli nation.
“Sarna's prose is admirably simple and direct; he has an eye for the perfect detail, linked with a quiet compassion for the people he writes about and an ability to let their stories speak for themselves.” —The Jerusalem Post
“Incantory. . .Sarna writes searingly of the Jewish experience. . .He understands that horror often hides in the small details, the seemingly trivial. His story "Whoever Knew Shut Up or Died," in simply tracing the fate of an Israeli family trying to track down a baby lost in Poland during the horror, may be as unforgettable an expression of the numbing legacy of the Nazi murder of Jews as anything out there.” —The San Francisco Chronicle
“Sarna has elevated the human-interest story to an art form. His book sheds light on human suffering in general, and the Israeli experience in particular. These fascinating accounts reveal a truth that is stranger than fiction, and a good deal stronger as well.” —The Dallas Morning News
“Brutally honest. . .offers a rare view of the varied experiences of individual Israelis today.” —Aufbau, The Translatlantic Jewish Paper
“Spare, wistful portraits. . . . Together, these deftly written often piercing stories form a complicated, sometimes contradictory tableau of Israeli life.” —Publishers Weekly
“An exceptional and potent work.”—Booklist
“Bleak, blistering, beautiful.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Sarna's factual and fierce writing takes a critical, close, almost ‘private’ look at Israel, offering a unique view of its history. He never tries to mask reality: the tensions, the wars, the deception, the absurdity, and the ever-present danger. He does not offer any recipes for resolving these tensions; he's content to gather the facts and to trace the personal fate of each individual in the grand chaos of history.” —Le Figaro (Paris)