The Ascent of Eli Israel
A profoundly unsettling collection of tales of Americans caught up in the ethnic, religious, social, economic, and political conflicts of modern day Israel, by an astonishing new voice. Jon Papernick has found a way to take the Jewish tradition and apply it to the times we live in without losing a step in the process.
Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)
Papernick was a reporter in Israel after the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, and he offers unique insight into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in these seven powerful stories, which approach violent coexistence from unusual angles. . . . It is Papernick’s sense of the surreal, his dark humor and his consciousness of the deep roots of Jewish and Muslim culture that distinguish this collection.
The New York Times Book Review
- Noah Richler
There is a muscular certainty to the best of Papernick’s stories that is altogether harrowing. They offer concise, explosive portraits of brittle tempers, the furies of citizens whose sentiments have been perverted in the pressure cooker of the one of the world’s most dangerously impassioned regions. . . . Papernick’s penetrating, clear-sighted stories ring true.
The Jewish Week
- Sandee Brawarsky
His writing is energetic and intense; he packs sentences with the imagery of the Middle East, and fills his pages with action and emotional complexity, sometimes humor.
Papernick has done an excellent job of capturing character, from Orthodox Jews to teenagers, bringing with them the fear and uncertainty of living in Israel. The Ascent of Eli Israel is an unforgettable journey into the hearts and minds of the average Jewish person in Israel.
Washington Post Book World
- Susan Adams
The Ascent of Eli Israel takes on the competing hatreds and faded hopes of an embattled land in seven inventive, sometimes fantastical, stories.
- Daniel Schifrin
Intense and impressive. . . The personal, political, and theological are always interconnected. . . . The stories walk a tightrope between the harsh, carefully observed existence of present-day Israel, a journalist’s appraisal of the political and social scene, and the feverish fantasies about power and theology that are just as much a reality as the fragrant olive trees and cobblestone streets.
- Anne Roiphe
This collection of stories marks the arrival of a writer of enormous talent, originality, and wit. . . . These stories have a personal intensity, a condensed fury, a simmering rage, that leaves the reader stunned and stirred. . . . This is master writing by a wonderful talent.
Curt Leviant, author of Ladies and Gentlemen, the Original Music of the Hebrew Alphabet Papernick depicts a society whose values are turned upside down. In Orwellian contra dicta, murder is mitzvah, shalom is obscene, guns are God, descent is ascent... Read Jon Papernick's "The Ascent of Eli Israel and Other Stories," and delve into a Jerusalem we all know, but where dark astonishments and edgy revelations lurk.
Quill and Quire
Jon Papernick's first collection of stories, The Ascent of Eli Israel, is a subtle, chilling and wistful "celebration" of the war-torn devastation and spiritual stoicism that afflicts modern-day Israel . . . [His] imagery is sparse, bare, and poignant. . . . Papernick's narrative limbo, his clever mapping of territorial and psychological displacement . . . distinguishes this mature debut.
The Jerusalem Report
- Philip Graubart
Papernick succeeds where many American writer have failed, in writing fully realized fiction about Israel…Finally, a writer intelligently and credibly portrays the darker side of immigrant misfits in Israel.
- Sanford Pinsker
The seven stories are far more than simply exercises in sprinkling local-color details… [Papernick] knows how the human heart beats. In Papernick's case, what one notices . . . is a feeling for everything that is unnerving, even disorienting, about daily life in contemporary Israel. . . . Contemporary American Jewish fiction is enjoying a particularly rich period, not only in terms of the sheer range of things that young Jewish authors write about, but also in their commitment to exploring what it means to be Jewish in our new century.
Jon Papernick's The Ascent of Eli Israel was one of the best short story collections I read this year.
San Diego Jewish Journal
Papernick tackles almost every important spiritual issue facing the state of Israel today. … Each of these stories highlights some element of the tragic madness … Yet these are not morality tales or political statements; they are simply powerful artistic portraits of contemporary Israel.
Melvin Jules Bukiet, author of Signs and Wonders and Strange Fire
Propulsively plot-driven, compulsively readable, Jon Papernick's stories reveal the various political and theological manias that make modern-day Israel so dense--and difficult--a place. Like Nathan Englander and Allegra Goodman, Papernick is part of a new breed of Jewish writer that looks beyond the shtetl and the suburb to uncharted horizons.
Valerie Martin, author of Mary Reilly and Property
Reading Jon Papernick's stories is an exhilarating, sometimes a frightening experience... These stories, like the modern Israel that is there setting, are hallucinogenic, rich, allegorical, wild, ironic, funny, touching, and new.