June 16 , 2010


The Desert Trilogy



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Israeli novelist and activist Shulamith Hareven's masterpiece, Thirst: The Desert Trilogy, contains three of her greatest works: The Miracle HaterProphet, and After Childhood.  In these beautifully written novellas, Hareven recasts the the biblical journey from exodus to the Land of Israel in a terrifically imagined contemporary voice. Hareven’s spare and spacious prose howls with the grandeur of the desert wilderness and the mythic beginnings of her nation and her people. Enlarging one of the world’s most dramatic and beloved stories, Hareven shifts our focus from the typical heroes—the great and powerful men of history—to the margins: a disillusioned shepherd who loses faith in his leaders; a would-be prophet from a distant city whose fate becomes entwined with the Israelites; an unhappy couple living at the very edge of civilization.

Hareven, whom the the French weekly L'Express listed among the "100 women who move the world,” was the author of 19 books and was the first (and for twelve years, the only) female member of the Academy of the Hebrew Language. As a journalist, she covered two wars and wrote seminal articles on the plight of Palestinians. She became a prominent spokesperson for Israel’s Peace Now movement. Shimon Peres, former president of Israel, called Thirst "both timeless and timely." Now available for the first time as an eBook, Thirst explores with subtlety and depth how individuals learn to relate to nature, to society, and especially to the divine.


“The novellas in Thirst present the wilderness story as seen from below, from the point of view of the nomads, not their leaders…. The success of Thirst rests entirely on the author's evocative and lush prose.” 

The New York Times 

“One of few women widely accepted in Israel as a member of that country's intellectual elite….These are apocryphal tales that, at their best, possess a shimmering, timeless quality.” 

Publishers Weekly 

“All three novellas are written with great narrative skill in a spare style that complements the desert landscape described…. Hareven uses the moral verities found in the biblical narrative to create strong myths for our time. Highly recommended for all libraries.” 

—Molly Abramowitz, Library Journal 

“Shulamith Hareven is a great writer. She combines historical and emotional depth with a brilliant and haunting style. Her historical novellas are unique: this is essential history, yet not bound by particular time. It is immaterial when the plot takes place: the plot itself creates history, and time becomes a kind of clock, showing the ostensible hour, but never determining the period. Shulamith Hareven writes with integrity; her historical and human truthfulness cannot be lost in translation. She makes all our lives richer, traversing all borders.” 

—Shimon Peres, President of Israel 

“Her trenchant subversion is sane, even liberating… Hareven’s lean sentences parallel the Bible’s poetic, precise cadence, even as she defiantly proclaims that those holy words are not engraved in stone.” 

—Voice Literary Supplement 

About the Author: 

Shulamith Hareven was born in Warsaw, Poland but grew up in Jerusalem, where she lived until her passing in 2003. A writer, translator, and activist, Hareven served as a writer-in-residence at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and was the first (and for twelve years, the only) female member of the Academy of the Hebrew language. 

In 1962, she published her first book, a book of poems titled Predatory Jerusalem. After that, she wrote prose books, translations of books, and plays. She published essays and articles about Israeli society and culture in literary journals MasaOrlogin, and Keshet, and in newspapers Al Ha-MishmarMaariv, and Yedioth Ahronoth. Her essays are collected in four volumes. She also published a thriller under the pen name "Tal Yaeri.” Her books have been translated into 21 languages. 

Hareven was an activist for Peace Now, and in 1995, the French weekly L'Express deemed her an Author of Peace and listed her among the 100 women "who move the world.” 

About the Translator: 

Hillel Halkin is an American-born Israeli translator, biographer, literary critic, and novelist, who has lived in Israel since 1970. Halkin translates from Hebrew and Yiddish literature into English. He has translated Sholem Aleichem's Tevye the Dairyman, and major Hebrew and Israeli novelists, among them Yosef Haim Brenner, S. Y. Agnon, Shulamith Hareven, A. B. Yehoshua, Amos Oz, and Meir Shalev.

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