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Atria (2018-02-13)
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Biography, Literature & Literary studies


by Rothman-Zecher, Moriel

After moving back to Israel as a teenager, Jonathan is eager to join the army and defend the Jewish state his grandfather helped establish. But when he meets Nimreen and Laith, the Palestinian twin daughter and son of his mother's friend, his world-view is altered.

The three become inseparable, caught in a whirlwind of passion and connection, sharing joints on the beach, intimate secrets, and dreams. Jonathan is forced to confront the suffering of his Palestinian friends and their families under Israeli rule, leading him to question his deeply ingrained loyalties. And then that fateful day arrives, the one that lands Jonathan in prison and changes his life forever.

Powerful, important, and timely, SADNESS IS A WHITE BIRD explores one man's attempts to find a place for himself, discovering in the process a beautiful, against-the-odds love that flickers like a candle in the darkness of a never-ending conflict. In this lyrical and searing debut novel written by a rising literary star, a young man is preparing to serve in the Israeli army while also trying to reconcile his close relationship to two Palestinian siblings with his deeply ingrained loyalties to family and country.

Moriel Rothman-Zecher was born in Jerusalem, and raised primarily in Yellow Springs, Ohio. He graduated from Middlebury College with degrees in Arabic and Political Science. He is the recipient ofa2017 MacDowell Colony Fellowship for Literature, and is the Associate Editor of the anthology Kingdom of Olives and Ash (Edited by Ayelet Waldman and Michael Chabon; published by HarperCollins, May 2017). His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Haaretz, Sojourners Magazine, and elsewhere.

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Moriel Rothman-Zecher was named a 2018 National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 Honoree.

Quote: HSG

Nuanced, sharp, and beautifully written, SADNESS IS A WHITE BIRD manages, with seeming effortlessness, to find something fresh and surprising and poignant in the classic coming-of-age, love-triangle narrative, something starker, more heartbreaking: something new.

Quote: Michael Chabon, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Moonglow

Rothman-Zecher's outstanding debut...has an unusual way with words, giving lovely, fresh descriptions of desire, violence, and injustice.

Review: Publishers Weekly

Rothman-Zecher, who refused to serve in the Israeli army, addresses complex, urgent issues through his vital and memorable characters.

Review: Booklist

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