Leading Israeli novelist Sami Michael shares his gift for navigating the cultural conflicts in modern Israel with A Trumpet in the Wadi, a novel that transcends its Middle Eastern setting with an honest and heartbreaking story of impossible love and the strength of family.
Set in the months preceding the 1982 Israeli-Arab conflict in Lebanon, this beautifully written tale is the coming-of-age story of two fatherless Christian Arab sisters, Huda and Mary, who live in the wadi -- the Arab quarter in the Jewish city of Haifa on the northern coast of Israel. An extraordinary bond of love and mutual respect unites the sisters -- polar opposites from their appearances to their tempers. Huda, the narrator of the story, is thin and withdrawn and, after abandoning her chance at marriage a few years back, has prematurely resigned herself to the monotonous life of an old maid. Her younger sister, Mary, is voluptuous, carnal, and perennially unemployed. Wrapped in the love of their sometimes bitter mother, their iconoclast grandfather, and the cheerful and omnipresent neighbor Jamilla, the sisters' lives change when a peculiar young Russian Jewish immigrant, Alex, moves into the upstairs flat. The melodies of the soulful trumpet player become the intoxicating theme music for Huda's unexpected reawakening -- and for Mary's dangerous foray into a love triangle with the heir of the local Muslim mob and her country cousin.
Michael's internationally acclaimed novel is a major achievement, illuminating the vast range of interlocking relationships between Jews and Arabs, Muslims and Christians, men and women. A Trumpet in the Wadi is an honest, witty, and ultimately heartbreaking story -- one that draws on the conflicts in the Middle East, but one whose insights into love and family can cross all cultural and political boundaries.