Thursday, February 11 at 7PM (pt)
CITY OF A THOUSAND GATES
by REBECCA SACKS
in conversation with
SARAH SHUN-LIEN BYNUM
Sacks deeply humanizes a conflict that dehumanizes on every level."
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.
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.
SARAH SHUN-LIEN BYNUM
Sarah Shun-lien Bynum is the author of the novels Ms. Hempel Chronicles, a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, and Madeleine Is Sleeping, a finalist for the National Book Award and winner of the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize. Her fiction has appeared in many magazines and anthologies, including the New Yorker, Ploughshares, Tin House, The Best American Short Stories, and the O. Henry Prize Stories. The recipient of a Whiting Writers' Award and an NEA Fellowship, she was named one of "20 Under 40" fiction writers by the New Yorker. She lives in Los Angeles. Her most recent book is the fabulous short story collection, Likes.