If The Debba
were a building it might be an M.C. Escher-like structure with staircases doubling back onto themselves creating an awesome network of levels and plotlines. On the surface this may appear to be a murder mystery, but from page one it became clear to me that it was much more than I was expecting. There is so much captivatingly, grippingly more
While the murder mystery/amateur detective plot stands as the cornerstone of the story, like a mirage on a blistering Tel Aviv highway it shimmers in and out of view. At times it is supplanted by the story of a man, David Starkman, who is at once haunted by and hoping to make sense of his own life by blindly following his deceased father's last wishes. At other times the focus turns to the return of this prodigal son of Israel to the country he renounced when he gave up his citizenship and became a...
Beyond the Book
Mandelman's novel is generously peppered with Yiddish words and phrases, complete with translations. There are other Yiddish words that require no translation having found their way into common English usage; words such as bagel, maven and klutz, have become so widespread that it would be difficult to spend a day without hearing, reading or uttering one of them. Others, such as schmooze, kvetch and shtick, while not as routinely used are nonetheless virtually irreplaceable in reference to the activities or things they describe.
Many people mistakenly believe Yiddish to be a kind of ethnic jargon. However, it is best described as a fusion language that shares a common ancestry with both German and English, in addition to several...