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Tue, May 02


Online via Zoom


A Book Talk Featuring Short Stories in Honor of Israel’s 75th Birthday with Author Omer Friedlander. Sponsored by the CCJCC, Cong. B'nai Shalom and Jewish Book Council in partnership with Diablo Valley Hadassah.

Registration is now closed.

Time & Location

May 02, 2023, 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM PDT

Online via Zoom

About the Event

The Man Who Sold Air in the Holy Land announces the arrival of a natural-born storyteller of immense talent. Warm, poignant, delightfully whimsical, Omer Friedlander’s gorgeously imaginative stories take you to the narrow limestone alleyways of Jerusalem, the desolate beauty of the Negev Desert, and the sprawling orange groves of Jaffa, with characters that spring to vivid life. A divorced con artist and his daughter sell empty bottles of “holy air” to credulous tourists; a Lebanese Scheherazade enchants three young soldiers in a bombed-out Beirut radio station, and a boy daringly “rooftops” at night, climbing steel cranes in scuffed sneakers even as he reimagines the bravery of a Polish-Jewish dancer during the Holocaust. They are fairy tales turned on their head by the stakes of real life and have a universal appeal to the heart.

“A beautiful debut by a deeply humane writer. Every story is a vivid world unto itself, intensely felt, and often revelatory.”—Nicole Krauss, author of The History of Love

“In these wise, capacious, achingly beautiful stories, Omer Friedlander maps the hidden geography of the human heart like a young Chekhov. Each one feels like a fresh new discovery, and collected together, The Man Who Sold Air in the Holy Land becomes a sustained feat of imaginative compassion.”—Anthony Marra, New York Times bestselling author of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena

“Innovative in conception, classical in spirit, these stories, set largely in Israel, resonate with international ramifications. Rarely do we encounter a writer so young but also this wise. . . . A splendid literary debut.”—Ha Jin, National Book Award–winning author of Waiting

“As outrageously funny as they are outrageously tender, Friedlander’s stories conjure complex and often difficult emotions with perfect acrobatic skill. This terrible world, he seems to be telling us, is so terribly wonderful that it is perfectly all right to laugh and cry at the same time... A superb collection.”—Kiran Desai, Booker Prize–winning author of The Inheritance of Loss

“Friedlander’s voice mixes those two nearly unmixables: intelligence and whimsy. He is one of those rare authors who can trap each moment in a surprising and somehow perfect detail. A major work—I urge you to read it.”—Darin Strauss, New York Times bestselling author of The Queen of Tuesday

“Omer Friedlander is a marvelous new voice, bringing magic, chance, and surprise to his stories without ever losing sight of the human and the real. I’d follow this writer anywhere.”—Rebecca Makkai, Pulitzer finalist for The Great Believers

"Jewish prima ballerina who kills a Nazi officer with the tip of her heel: there’s a touch of magic in these stories reminiscent of I.B. Singer and Nathan Englander. But the world Friedlander creates is all his own. Through his orange-grove workers, junk collectors, soldiers, and grieving mothers, he makes Israel and Palestine—the whole history of the Middle East—come alive. The Man Who Sold Air in the Holy Land is an astonishing, breathtaking debut." —Joshua Henkin, author of Morningside Heights

“Friedlander’s shimmering prose and admirably versatile points of view make his stories compelling.”—Sarah Moss, author of The Fell

“Wonderfully crafted…[a] fine balance between humor, sorrow, and compassion.”—Ruby Namdar, author of The Ruined House

“This touching debut collection includes the stories of a divorced con artist who sells bottled “holy air” to tourists, a grieving mother who regrets sending her son to die “for a government I hate,” and a Jewish man racked with guilt after betraying his Palestinian friend.”The New York Times Book Review

“Friedlander’s skillfully crafted, imagistic prose captivates and soars. With this collection, Friedlander positions himself as poised to join a formidable cadre that includes writers such as David Grossman and Etgar Keret.” Kirkus Reviews

You may order The Man Who Sold Air in the Holy Land  by Omer Friedlander from:

Admission is free. Upon registration, you will first receive a confirmation email. An hour before the program begins, we will email the Zoom link you need to join the event. If you don't see these emails, please check your spam/junk folder to retrieve them. We suggest you add to your contacts list as well.

Sponsored by CCJCC, Cong. B'nai Shalom and Jewish Book Council in partnership with Diablo Valley Hadassah.


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