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About this book
The Slaughterman’s Daughter
The Avenging of Mende Speismann at the Hands of Her Sister Fanny
Yaniv Iczkovits • Orr Scharf
When Fanny Keismann turns ten, her father, Grodno’s ritual slaughterer, gives her a knife, and she soon develops a talent for her father’s trade. But in nineteenth-century Russia, ritual slaughter does not befit a wife and mother, so when it comes time to marry and raise a family, Fanny abandons her work and devotes herself to raising her five children.
When Fanny’s older sister’s husband disappears, Fanny leaves her own family and sets out for the great city of Minsk in search of her wayward brother-in-law, armed with her old knife and accompanied by Zizek Bershov, who is either a sly rogue or an idiot. Fanny’s mission to help her sister turns into a misadventure that threatens the foundations of the Russian Empire. What began as a family matter in Motol, a peripheral Jewish settlement, breaks the bounds of the shtetl, pits the police against the Czar’s army, and upsets the political and social order they all live in.
About the Creators
YANIV ICZKOVITS, born in 1975, has published three novels. His first, Heartbeat, was awarded the Haaretz First Book Prize, and his second, Adam and Sophie, the Prime Minister’s Prize. The Slaughterman’s Daughter won the Agnon Prize — the first time the award had been granted in ten years. Iczkovits has also won the Ramat Gan Prize for Literary Excellence and the People of the Book Foundation Prize, and was shortlisted for the Sapir Prize. He has a Ph.D. in philosophy from Columbia University and published a book based on his academic work entitled Wittgenstein’s Ethical Thought. He lives in Tel Aviv with his wife and two daughters.
ORR SCHARF is a translator of literature and has a postdoctoral fellowship on the works of Franz Rosenzweig, Martin Buber, and Walter Benjamin.
Awards and Praise
PRAISE FOR YANIV ICZKOVITS AND THE SLAUGHTERMAN’S DAUGHTER
Winner, Agnon Prize
Winner, Ramat Gan Prize for Literary Excellence
Finalist, Sapir Prize
“What begins as a small family drama explodes in every possible direction in its virtuosity.” — Haaretz
“An adventure story with few like it in modern Hebrew literature . . . A simply outstanding novel.” — Walla
“A major novel that zigzags between characters and plots, between history and psychology, rooted in a brilliant narrative.” — Haaretz Gallery
“In The Slaughterman’s Daughter, Iczkovits presents an original take on the historical novel which recreates — with a shrewd but affectionate look back at a lost world — Jewish life in the Russian empire at the end of the nineteenth century. The story’s plot, characters, narrative style, and the narrator’s perspective are characterized by historical realism but also an element of fantasy. It is also worth noting the novel’s brilliant insights, its winning humour, and especially the highly effective and readable blend of our vibrant, supple modern Hebrew and a distant, forgotten way of life. This is a novel of unquestionable uniqueness.” — Dr. David Weinfeld, Dr. Shira Stav, and Bilhah ben Eliyahu, Judges’ Committee of the Agnon Prize
“This is a perfect, if rare, example of a contemporary Israeli narrative that is in living dialogue with the literary and historical past, drawing on it and constructing an utterly original, independent artistic structure on its foundations . . . Iczkovits has created a sensual, richly vibrant Jewish world devoid of stereotypes, with flesh-and-blood characters to whom nothing human is foreign. There is no doubt. Iczkovits has pulled this off with wondrous success, yielding a virtuosic novel.” — Professor Avner Holzman, Maya Sela, Amir Lev, Eldad Ziv, and Netta Gurevitch, Judges’ Committee of the Ramat Gan Prize for Literary Excellence
PRAISE FOR YANIV ICZKOVITS AND ADAM AND SOPHIE
Winner, Prime Minister’s Prize
“We should keep an eye on Iczkovits. He is an amazing, promising talent . . . who will be talked about for a long time to come.” — Dorit Rabinyan, Time Out
“A major, dizzying novel animated by an inner flame.” — Haaretz
“Iczkovits’s talent is evident.” — Maariv
“The literary expectations raised by Yaniv Iczkovits’s first novel have now been fulfilled in his second.” — Yedioth Ahronoth
PRAISE FOR YANIV ICZKOVITS AND HEARTBEATS
Winner, Haaretz First Book Prize
“Book of the Month, Book of the Year! . . . Amazing. Stunning!” — Israel TV2
“Iczkovits examines Israeli society in all its contradictions, its failures and its complexity.” — Il Riformista
“A literary event from a leader of the ‘refuseniks,’ a group of conscientious objectors to the Israeli army.” — Panorama.it
“A real novel.” — Il Manifesto