The Man Who Sold Air in the Holy Land by Omer Friedlander
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 immersive and 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; 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; an Israeli volunteer at a West Bank checkpoint mourns the death of her son, a soldier killed in Gaza.
These stories render the intimate lives of people striving for connection. They are fairy tales turned on their head by the stakes of real life, where moments of fragile intimacy mix with comedy and notes of the absurd. Told in prose of astonishing vividness that also demonstrates remarkable control and restraint, they have a universal appeal to the heart.
Year first published: 2022