City of a Thousand Gates: Book summary and reviews of City of a Thousand Gates by Rebecca Sacks

City of a Thousand Gates

by Rebecca Sacks

City of a Thousand Gates by Rebecca Sacks X
City of a Thousand Gates by Rebecca Sacks
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  • Published in USA  Feb 2021
    400 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

A novel of great humanity, compassion, and astonishing immediacy, this inventive and unique debut captures the emotional reality of contemporary life in the West Bank and the irreconcilable Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a collage of narrative voices and different viewpoints centered on a particular set of events.

Brave and bold, this gorgeously written novel introduces a large cast of characters from various backgrounds in a setting where violence is routine and where survival is defined by boundaries, walls, and checkpoints that force people to live and love within and across them.

Hamid, a college student, has entered Israeli territory illegally for work. Rushing past soldiers, he bumps into Vera, a German journalist headed to Jerusalem to cover the story of Salem, a Palestinian boy beaten into a coma by a group of revenge-seeking Israeli teenagers. On her way to the hospital, Vera runs in front of a car that barely avoids hitting her. The driver is Ido, a new father traveling with his American wife and their baby. Ido is distracted by thoughts of a young Jewish girl murdered by a terrorist who infiltrated her settlement. Ori, a nineteen-year-old soldier from a nearby settlement, is guarding the checkpoint between Bethlehem and Jerusalem through which Samar—Hamid's professor—must pass.

These multiple strands open this magnificent and haunting novel of present-day Israel and Palestine, following each of these diverse characters as they try to protect what they love. Their interwoven stories reveal complicated, painful truths about life in this conflicted land steeped in hope, love, hatred, terror, and blood on both sides.

City of a Thousand Gates brilliantly evokes the universal drives that motivate these individuals to think and act as they do—desires for security, for freedom, for dignity, for the future of one's children, for land that each of us, no matter who or where we are, recognize and share.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"A stunning first novel…imbued with foreboding at every turn…Through her vibrant characters, Sacks paints a moving and powerful portrait of those who love the region passionately despite its many tensions and dangers." - Booklist (starred review)

"Sacks demonstrates a deep knowledge of the place and its people, and does an excellent job of inhabiting the many points of view through strong voices and rich emotion, making palpable the hate and love at odds not only across cultures but within individual hearts. Fans of Nathan Englander will find much to love." - Publishers Weekly

"This ambitious, forceful debut novel, likely informed by Sacks's years studying in Tel Aviv, personalizes with startling clarity the seemingly unsolvable conundrum that is the Middle East. This is a thinking reader's book." - Library Journal

"Probing and investigative, City of a Thousand Gates illustrates the endless reverberations of political conflict and its violence within the most intimate corners of personal life. Sacks deeply humanizes a conflict that dehumanizes on every level." - Nicole Krauss

"This beautiful novel manages to inhabit the experience of multiple characters across the Israel/Palestine divide. It is fascinating, compelling, and propulsive, building to a conclusion that is as inevitable as it is shocking." - Ayelet Waldman

"Smart on the eternal sorrows of an endless conflict, City of a Thousand Gates is rich with the pleasures that only a novel can provide: the ironies, the insights, the puncturing of the political pieties. Panoramic in scope, devastating in its detail, Sacks's novel spares no one, but sympathetically, emphatically, with tremendous love." - Joshua Ferris

"A nuanced, powerful portrait of what it means to be caught in the reality of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the West Bank. I found myself and my family in the pages of this beautifully written, brave, and incredibly compassionate novel. I couldn't put it down." - Etaf Rum

This information about City of a Thousand Gates shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Rebecca Sacks

Rebecca Sacks graduated from the Programs in Writing at the University of California, Irvine. In 2019, she received a Canada Council for the Arts grant, as well as the Joseph F. McCrindle Foundation's Henfield Prize for fiction. She has been awarded fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, the Juniper Summer Writing Institute and the Mellon-Sawyer Documenting War Seminar Series. After graduating from Dartmouth College, she worked for several years at Vanity Fair before moving to Israel, where she received a master's in Jewish Studies. Her dispatches from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem have been published in journals such as the Paris Review Daily. Rebecca Sacks is a citizen of Canada, the United States and Israel.

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