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Syracuse University Press (2017-11-24)
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1st Pass Pages
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by Pinkus, Yirmi

This sensitive and humorous novel depicts a bourgeois Tel Aviv family in the last moments of a dying era.

As they do every year, Yosef Zinman, a well-to-do Tel Aviv grocer, and his beloved wife Zippi plan a vacation during the holiday of Sukkot to Seefeld in the mountainous Tirols region of Austria.
This year, Zippi decides to invite her sister, who has fallen on hard times with a failing perfumery business. Soon, more and more relatives join in on the trip, and the expenses quickly begin to add up. To gather all the funds needed, the family goes into the business of inexpensive clothing and fashion shows for workers' unions. The summer promises handsome revenues, but as the Zinman family nears their goal, they become increasingly vexed by their competing interests.

A tragic-comic novel in its essence, Petty Business chronicles a year in one family's life, set against the backdrop of Tel Aviv's rapidly changing global economy in the early 1990s. Pinkus's biting critique of Tel Aviv's provincial character and its residents' shtetl mentality is delivered with a perfect combination of wit, humor, and tender pathos.

Yirmi Pinkus is an Israeli writer and illustrator living in Tel Aviv. In 2010, he won the Prime Minister's Award for his achievements both as a novelist and as a comics artist. Petty Business was short-listed for the 2013 Sapir prize.

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Winner of The Israel Institute's Literary Prize

Quote: Israel Institute

A very funny yet tragic book, a unique work in the history of Israeli literature and one of only a handful of works that relates to the great humoristic tradition of Eastern European Jewish literature in Hebrew and Yiddish. Highly recommended.

Quote: Yaron Peleg, Kennedy Leigh Lecturer in Modern Hebrew Studies, Cambridge Univ.

[A] decisive literary victory, a real celebration . . . the precise observations of Philip Roth, the grotesque wildness of Hanoch Levin, and the sharp melancholy of Ephraim Kishon. . . . A humorous novel that is motivated by empathy rather than sarcasm and manages to be both entertaining and deeply moving.

Quote: Omri Herzog, Ha’aretz

Pinkus is an original talent, whose work is funny, compassionate and finely etched.

Review: Jewish Week

A refreshing, realistic portrayal of the city of Tel Aviv and a rare depiction of middle-aged, petty bourgeois characters who don't usually find their way into Israeli fiction.

Quote: Philip Hollander, assistant professor, Center for Jewish Studies, University of

...No matter how grotesque his characters' behavior, Pinkus is far too empathic a writer to mock them. Even as we laugh at these grasping and feuding families, they burrow deep into our hearts; it is impossible not to genuinely root for them when their modest dreams threaten to slip away. With each new scheme, long buried feelings suddenly erupt; ribald humor and tender sadness ripple on virtually every page....

Review: Jewish Book Council

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