The Man Who Sold Air in the Holy Land: Stories

Books on Tape. Apr. 2022. 7:16 hrs. ISBN 9780593558102. $66.50. F
Friedlander’s debut features imaginative, poignant, and fascinating short stories that illuminate the lives of Palestine’s and Israel’s diverse people and deal with love, hate, the Holocaust, and the Israeli occupation of Palestine. The stories’ complex, conflicted characters are Palestinians, Arab Israelis, and Jewish Israelis who love and hate each other simultaneously; many of the Israeli characters are unsympathetic—con men, oppressors, and brutes. In the humorous story “The Sephardi Survivor,” Sephardi brothers search for a Holocaust survivor they can bring to school to pose as their grandfather on Holocaust Remembrance Day. In “Jaffa Oranges,” the Israeli narrator was 13 when he was fired from his best friend Khalil’s family orchard because he was Jewish; years later, as an IDF soldier, he brutally retaliates. In “Checkpoint,” Friedlander depicts an insensitive brute of a settler, while the title story’s main character is an indigent divorced father who cons rich tourists into buying empty bottles. Narrators Assaf Cohen and Gilli Messer do a phenomenal job reading the book; third-person narrations are American-accented, while the dialogue of many of the characters is spoken in flawless Israeli-accented English.
VERDICT An impeccably narrated audiobook that makes Friedlander’s stories come alive.
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