Cover image for The man who fell into a puddle : Israeli lives
The man who fell into a puddle : Israeli lives
Sarna, Igal, 1952-
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Maḳom shel Osher. English
Publication Information:
New York : Pantheon Books, [2002]

Physical Description:
x, 212 pages ; 21 cm
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PJ5055.4.A77 M3513 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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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.

Author Notes

Igal Sarna is a reporter for Yediot Aharonot. He lives in Tel Aviv.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Sarna, an Israeli journalist, offers portraits of 14 Israeli men and women whose lives are permeated by fear and anger in a land without peace. Profiles include a paratrooper who ran away from an orphanage when he was eight and as an adult meets the mother he barely remembers living among Arabs; a teacher awarded his Ph.D. from the University of Berlin 50 years after he earned it; a Jewish man born in Syria and confined to a psychiatric hospital for 31 years before a relative took him to France; and a woman who jumped from a rocky ledge to her death, leaving behind a book entitled "The Price of Honor" and a letter addressed to her husband--a letter that he does not comprehend. Originally published in Israel in Hebrew, the book is an exceptional and potent work. --George Cohen

Publisher's Weekly Review

"Throughout my life I have written about Israeli traumas and have seen how new lives are built upon ruins," writes Israeli journalist Sarna, though these spare, wistful portraits focus more on loss and quiet despair than on rebuilding. In one essay, a Russian immigrant homesick for his native Leningrad gets into an auto accident. Bleeding and wild-eyed, he runs off into the desert and isn't heard from again. In another piece, a former Israeli paratrooper who grew up in an orphanage learns that his mother is alive and living with a Palestinian husband in Jordan-and confronts her in an astonishing encounter. Another man, who fled the Holocaust as child, explains that the worst terror he ever endured was actually in Israel-where he spent 20 years in a psychiatric hospital. For the most part, Sarna avoids imposing larger meanings or pat interpretations. When he does look for epiphanies, as in the title essay about an artist's recovery from depression, the pieces feel a bit strained and sentimental. Though the Palestinian conflict comes up in a few of the essays, it's usually the older tragedies of Jewish history that weigh heavily on the subjects: in one of the most moving, Sarna traces the downward spiral of a childhood acquaintance, a son of Holocaust survivors, who dies alone and virtually penniless in the United States. Together, these deftly written, often piercing stories form a complicated, sometimes contradictory tableau of Israeli life. (Nov. 1) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved