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Was Othniel Assis asking too much? All he wanted was to grow some cherry tomatoes for his wife’s salad and to milk his goat.
In the heart of the West Bank, he discovers a hilltop with a small field, shifts a large container there, acquires a generator, and establishes a non-profit association.
A path is constructed to the hilltop, and one winter night five trailers are unloaded near the farm. When the local army commander arrives at the site, tempers flare. The Israeli Civil Administration for the occupied territories claims that there is no permit to install the trailers, but there is no permit to remove them either.
Thus the outpost Maale Hermesh C is established.
Years go by and the hilltop blossoms: more trailers, a playground, organic fields, and a synagogue; families and singles, farmers and teachers, religious and secular, a hot-headed cosmetician, and two brothers, former kibbutz members.
One day an American journalist happens by, and his report leads to an international crisis: how will the Defense Minister get the American pressure off his back? How will Captain Omer, who receives conflicting messages from his superiors and who is driven mad by the settlers, react? Will the born-again-Jew, Gabriel Nehushtan, find some solace for his wounded soul? What has the economic meltdown in the United States got to do with the illegal outpost? And what are the mysterious Japanese looking for in the neighboring Palestinian village?
The Hilltop is a sprawling, daring novel, which dismantles the extreme and absurd reality in the Israeli-occupied West Bank: Catch 22 meets 21st century Israel. Violence, greed, lust for power and the blurring of values, but also a burning ideological passion.
As always, Gavron charts a path between styles and genres, between realism and satire, between being earnest and wildly funny.
Gavron wrote parts of The Hilltop in a cabin in a settlement in the West Bank.
"Structurally brilliant... Violence haunts the narrative, providing its emotional core." New York Times Book Review
"Expansive, humorous novel... Gavron’s satiric touches can be coruscating..." The New Yorker
"The Hilltop is a 'great Israeli novel'... Gavron writes realistic fiction with a comic edge that aims to take the temperature of his whole society, to tell us how Israelis live now." Tablet
"The Hilltop undoubtedly provides an extraordinary view of contemporary Israeli society... it is something entirely new – a comic settlement-saga"
"A nuanced complexity that feels very real. It’s a funny and ultimately melancholy read." NPR best books of 2014
Shortlisted, Magnesia Litera Award, translated fiction category, Czech Republic, 2018
Special Mention, ADEI-Wizo prize, Italy, 2016
Long listed, JQ-Wingate prize,
Long listed, Dublin IMPAC Award, Ireland, 2016
Finalist, Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award, USA, 2015
Winner, Bernstein Prize,
Finalist, Brener Award,
Long listed, Sapir Award,