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House of Windows: Portraits from a Jerusalem…

House of Windows: Portraits from a Jerusalem Neighborhood (2000)

by Adina Hoffman

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I adored this book. It brought back a flood of memories from the few months I had the privilege and delight of living and working in the city of Jerusalem. Although author Adina Hoffman talked about her experiences in the city at a later time period than when I was there, she brought back all of the local color of that city. The people in Jerusalem are amazing - so colorful, so special. If I could have, I would have jumped right into the pages of this book, taken the author's hand and told her to let go, not be afraid of the city and its inhabitants, and to simply take everything in around her with joy. There was a sense of trepidation about her writing. Maybe it was because I was there as a single woman and the author first came there as a married woman, that I felt the beginning of this book was so tentative. I guess it was the time in which she lived there. I was there before the Intifada began.

Perhaps not as much for others who have never been to Israel or to Jerusalem, but for me, this book was simply enchanting. I loved all the characters - even the ones who were less than agreeable. That was because I seemed to know them all. She nailed her emotions and reactions of others in such a way that all the characters came vividly to life. With Hoffman's great eye and descriptive ability, she made this book as alive as any book could be. I enjoyed this read immensely. ( )
  SqueakyChu | Apr 1, 2014 |
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With its flight of worn limestone steps, its slender columns and worm bannisters, rising at intervals into delicate archways, the house called to mind a host of mismatched objects and structures, the entire assortment of which might suggest, together, something of its quirky elegance, but none of which alone does justice to the building's eccentric proportions.
Inasmuch as most of the movie-going public are of the European mentality, European films have no doubt a greater appeal to them than American products, which are in so many instances untrue to actual life. (C. Lutz, Chancellor of the Consulate of Switzerland for Palestine and Transjordan in an inquiry dated June 10, 1935)
“You know my father, may his memory be blessed, he always thought that I’d do something big, some-thing, some-thing BIG with my life. That I’d be at least a lawyer. He always thought there should be at least one lawyer in the family…” (Jacko Ohana, fishmonger in Makhane Yehuda, Jerusalem)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0767910192, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:21 -0400)

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