House of Windows
Portraits From a Jerusalem Neighborhood
By Adina Hoffman
(Broadway Books, Paperback, 9780767910194, 224pp.)
Publication Date: March 12, 2002
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A brilliant and moving evocation of the rhythms of life (and the darker shadows below it) in a working-class quarter of the world’s most fascinating and divided city.
In the tradition of the literature of place perfected by such expatriate writers as M. F. K. Fisher and Isak Dinesen, Adina Hoffman’s House of Windows compellingly evokes Jerusalem through the prism of the neighborhood where she has lived for eight years since moving from the United States. In a series of interlocking sketches and intimate portraits of the inhabitants of Musrara, a neighborhood on the border of the western (Jewish) and eastern (Arab) sides of the city–a Sephardic grocer, an aging civil servant, a Palestinian gardener, a nosy mother of ten–Hoffman constructs an intimate view of Jerusalem life that will be a revelation to American readers bombarded with politics and headlines. By focusing on the day-to-day pace of existence in this close-knit community, she provides a rich, precise, and refreshingly honest portrait of a city often reduced to cliche–and takes in the larger question of identity and exile that haunts Jews and Palestinians alike.
Adina Hoffman grew up in New Hampshire and Texas. She now lives in Jerusalem, where she is a film critic for The Jerusalem Post.
“A work of literary art.” –Phillip Lopate
“With House of Windows, Adina Hoffman fills a gap in an extraordinary manner with a book that is truly a work of art. Written with style and truth, Hoffman’s portrait of [Jerusalem] will long remain in the mind’s eye of the reader.” –Ruminator Review
“Hoffman’s remarkable work of nonfiction, wonderfully written, takes us deep inside the lives...of the people who have been virtually invisible outside Israel and who have been ignored and disregarded by the Ashkenazi elite.” –Linda Grant, The Independent
“The writing is as poignant and layered as the subjects she writes about–and by detailing the ways history and culture play out in the day-to-day lives of the residents of one of the world’s most contentious cities, she adds nuance and complexity to a much-studied subject.” –Publishers Weekly