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A Woman in Jerusalem

3.41  ·  Rating details ·  1,217 ratings  ·  188 reviews
A woman in her forties is a victim of a suicide bombing at a Jerusalem market. Her body lies nameless in a hospital morgue. She had apparently worked as a cleaning woman at a bakery, but there is no record of her employment. When a Jerusalem daily accuses the bakery of "gross negligence and inhumanity toward an employee," the bakery's owner, overwhelmed by guilt, entrusts ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published August 14th 2006 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published 2004)
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Average rating 3.41  · 
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 ·  1,217 ratings  ·  188 reviews

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Jim Fonseca
Sep 25, 2019 rated it liked it
A woman is killed by a suicide bomber in an Israeli market. No one claims her body because, as we learn shortly, although she is not Jewish, she had immigrated to Israel from Russia with her Jewish husband and son. They returned but she stayed. It turns out that Israel has a law that, as a last resort, an employer is responsible for claiming a body and making funeral arrangements. Due to a paperwork mix-up, her employer didn’t claim her. A journalist from a trashy newspaper investigating her dea ...more
Elyse (retired from reviewing/semi hiatus) Walters
Update $2.99 Kindle special today
... I read this years ago. The story still stays with me. An Israeli is found dead - a woman from a suicide bombing
..... it’s the tale that follows about the baker who finds her that kept me intrigued while he wants to do the right thing and get her body sent back home ...
A.B. Yehoshua is a skillful writer. It’s worth reading any one of his books. Some are better than others - but you can feel you’re in great hands when you read his work.

A.B. Yehosh
A very weird story about a mysterious, lonely foreign woman who dies in a terror attack in the city of Jerusalem. Nobody claims her body and the only thing they know about her is that she worked in a bakery. The bakery's human resources manager sets out on a mission to find out who this woman was in order to ensure the company's good reputation and to prove its old owner's humanity.
Although he only saw a fuzzy picture of her, he becomes obsessed with her beauty and with his mission.
We only get
Yair Ben-Zvi
Nov 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
I don't like AB Yehoshua the man, at least insofar of what I've read of him in articles and in speeches and from quotes. He's not exactly the nicest man or the greatest master of tact (equating Diaspora Judaism to masturbation and apparently returning Saul Bellow's compliment of being a 'world class writer' with 'I wouldn't trade ten Saul Bellows for one William Faulkner'---what an ass) and striking me just a tad as a political hypocrite. And he's certainly not the modern Israeli literary equiva ...more
Sep 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: jewish, middle-east
AB Yehoshua is one of my favourite Israeli writers. It was only when I started reading the book I realised I had also seen the film "The Human Resource Manager" which is based on the book. Both are great.
Maayan K
May 17, 2014 rated it did not like it
This is not AB Yehoshua's best work, to put it kindly. The story, about a large bakery's personnel manager tasked with dealing with the body of a foreign worker killed in a suicide bombing, may have been more interesting when it was published in 2003 in the midst of the second intifada, but I doubt it.

The story simply isn't interesting enough. And there are so many things to annoy. like, the fact that none of the characters (except for the dead woman) have names, and are only called by their ti
Robin Friedman
May 06, 2018 rated it liked it
A Search For Love And Place

A. B. Yehoshua's novel, "A Woman in Jerusalem" raises a number of difficult themes -- the nature of love, the search for identity, the importance of place -- but explores them unconvincingly. I don't think the novel succeeds.

The story involves a dead non-Jewish woman, Yulia Ragayev,in her late 40s who had immigrated to Jersualem with her Jewish lover and her son from a former marriage. When her lover and son leave, she opts to remain and is kill
Talia Carner
Nov 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The journey of the Human Resource Man...

The original name of the novel in its Hebrew version is "The Mission of the Human Resource Man." And indeed, the journey is more of the nameless Human Resource director at a Jerusalem bakery than that of a woman killed during a Palestinian suicide bombing and becomes the focus of the Human Resource director's investigation.

The owner of the bakery is a retired, rich man who is sensitive to public criticism when it is discovered that the decease
Sep 04, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this a few years ago....I don't remember too much
Nov 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is a fast-paced, plot dominated novel that rings lots of bells and leaves the reader at the end laughing out loud but also seriously exploring the issues it raises.
The main character is “the human resources manager” of a large Jerusalem bakery. He used to be the top salesman but was transferred when extensive travel interfered with his home life. His wife divorced him anyway. The main focus of the novel is a corpse—and oddly the only character with a name—Yulia Ragayev, a non-Jewish immigr
Aug 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
A woman is killed in a terrorist bombing in Jerusalem. She has no ID and no relative or friend comes to claim her body at the morgue in the days following the incident. Then a reporter learns that she had a paystub from a large and famous bakery in her pocket and prepares to write a blistering article on the company’s insensitivity. His editor reaches out to the bakery’s owner for a comment and the owner orders his HR manager to investigate and make things right. From this not very compelling pl ...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
I think the GR description provides more information about the plot than I normally like to see. However, it does indicate - to me, at least - that the action would probably take place in Israel. I had thought when it says A. B. Yehoshua astonishes us with his masterly, often unexpected turns in the story and with his ability to get under the skin and into the soul of Israel today that there would be more, and more general, action in Israel. But the novel is more than 10 years old, and certainly we h ...more
Jul 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A woman is murdered in a terrorist attack in Jerusalem, her body long unclaimed, a journalist traces her to a bakery where she once worked and was not in death missed. The burial of this woman, Yulia Ragayev, the only person in this wonderful novel to have a name, launches the tale. The Bakery's Human Resource Director must find out who she was and what was her relationship to the bakery, in the process becoming emotionally attached to her. Indeed, it is a testament to Yehoshua's skills how well ...more
Rachel Stroup
Jan 01, 2015 rated it liked it
This book was quite a unique read. Only one of the characters in the story is mentioned by name throughout the entire novel. The other characters are all described by their titles, such as "the resource manager", "the owner", etc. It is set in Jerusalem, and there has been a recent terrorist bombing of a local market. The book follows the story of a temporary employee of a bakery killed in the bombing, and the journey taken by the human resources manager at the bakery where she worked from her i ...more
Apr 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
Very slim book, but full of things to meditate on. The story uses the death of a woman in Israel to explore identity; of both people, and nations, as well as the interrelationship of those two.

Yehoshua brilliantly chooses to give his main living character no name, but to fluctuate between calling him, the resource manager, or the emissary, and other such titles. The dead woman is in fact the only character granted a name, however the country of her origin is left a mystery, whereas t
Jan 01, 2016 added it
A Woman in Jerusalem, by A.B. Yehoshua
Translated from the author’s native Hebrew this simple story of an unidentified foreign woman killed in a Jerusalem bomb attack drew me in. The main protagonist is a HR Manager of a large bakery organisation charged by the owner with finding out the woman’s story. All that is known about the woman is that she had a blood stained pay slip from the bakery in her pocket, but her name is obscured. A journalist is threatening to print a story exposing the o
Dec 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
Yehoshua is such a humane writer. The unnamed hero is a lost soul who is sent on a mission to acertain the truth behind the accusation that his company has been cruel and neglectful to one of its employees who has died in a terrorist bombing. His journey is almost mythical as he realizes hidden truths about himself. At one point he seemingly descends to hell in the guise of an underground military base in the midst of an arctic unnamed exSoviet country where his attempts to do right by the woman ...more
Andrea Dowd
Sep 11, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
"A Woman in Jerusalem" had such interesting potential and then it got mired in its own wit. The translation seemed good and possibly even one of the better translators, but the story never picked up. I could not imagine reading another line of "but I couldn't understand why everyone thought this woman was so beautiful and I couldn't remember her!" Boring. I'm sure somewhere in the novel, not so cleverly cloaked, was a reference to Jerusalem and its personality/persona.
Feb 11, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
HE: שליחותו של הממונה על משאבי אנוש
A seemingly simple storyline that leaves a lot of food for thought about what it takes to be humane in far from humanistic circumstances. Reminded me of home and made me want to read the original Hebrew.
Golan Schzukin
Uniq story that is on one hand enjoyable and funny, and also deep on the other hand
Will Nelson
Oct 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really liked the multiplicity of voices in this book, especially when the people the manager met spoke in the collective "we". The pieces all fell into place in a very compelling way and the pace was basically perfect.

I appreciated that Yulia Ragayev, the dead cleaning woman, is the only person in this book who gets a name, while the rest are their title or their relationships. It elevates the whole journey to fable, while also being very personal and specific

The very end was a bit of
May 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, own
I quickly realized I had to take any preconceptions about this book and throw them out the window. I’ve never read anything like it and I was pleasantly surprised by the distinct narrative style that conjured one word: ambiguity. That could be applied to any number of devices used to tell this story: all of the characters are nameless, the title character is a voiceless corpse, and there is a journey to an unidentified country.

But what is it about? When a temporary immigrant worker i
Nov 26, 2012 added it
Shelves: israel, 2012
I found this book so frustrating! Not because it was not written well, but because I couldn't believe that a whole book could've been devoted to a story about what to do with the body of a bombing victim. I am sure there was something the author was trying to say but, I got so impatient with the ruminations of the HR manager. And the end of the book made me want to throw the book across the room!
You see, there was a bombing in Jerusalem and an unidentified women gets killed. Her only possi
Jun 04, 2009 rated it liked it
After a woman killed in a Jerusalem suicide bombing lies unclaimed in a morgue, one of the morgue's doctor's finds the only identifying marker: a pay stub from the bakery where she worked.

But instead of calling the bakery, the doctor calls a small weekly newspaper who decide to run an expose about the woman-- an immigrant from the former USSR-- and the bakery's heartless management who made no attempt to find their missing worker, leaving her to die alone. But before running the stor
Aug 21, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, jewish
I find Yehoshua rather difficult to read. I keep thinking that there's depth there that I'm not seeing. Supposedly this work "get[s] under the skin and into the soul of Israel today." I wished I could've felt that, but I didn't. I couldn't understand the drive of the main character, and how he continues getting pulled farther into activities those around him see as folly. Guilt, certainly, but how does what he is doing assuage that? I also had trouble with the ending. I'm not sure whether it was ...more
Oct 24, 2012 rated it liked it
Interesting premise but did not like the ending. A woman is killed in a terrorist attack in Jerusalem and no one can identify her. She is a cleaning woman from a well-kinown bakery who came here from an Eastern European country whioh is never identified. We find out later that she was kept on the books to be paid by the bakery even though the night shift supervisor had let her go. The reason she was let go was not conveyed to the Human Resources Department and an expose aritcle in the local pape ...more
Carol Catinari
Nov 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
This was a somewhat unusual book, and it grew on me. I read a review saying how fast paced it was, and that surprised me. I thought it was slow moving, but in a somewhat hypnotic way. Like other books written in Hebrew and translated into English, I found it quite dense, and had to slow down and really read.

The story of an unknown Russian woman who was killed in Jerusalem in a suicide bombing. The company she worked for gets panned in the press for not responding to her death. The st
Susana Pierce
Oct 20, 2015 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 26, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The plot looked intriguing. A woman is a victim of a suicide bombing at a Jerusalem market. Her body lies nameless in a morgue. When a Jerusalem weekly accuses her (former) employer of gross negligence and inhumanity towards an employee (for not knowing their own employee was dead), the novel begins.
Reading this book was like reading a film noir. The protagonist(the human resources manager) left me cold. I couldn't have cared less about him. The only reason I kept reading was because the n
Apr 23, 2007 rated it liked it
I enjoyed the journey I took with this book, but felt a bit dissatisfied with no particular reason why. The plot was compelling: a woman is killed in a suicide bomb attack, and her only ID is a current paystub from a company she's not supposed to be working at. Instead of facing a scathing news article about corporate responsibility for employees, the owner sends the human resources manager on a quest to find out details about the dead woman. Sort of mystery, sort of political commentary, sort o ...more
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Abraham B. Yehoshua (אברהם ב. יהושע) is one of Israel's preeminent writers. His novels include A Journey to the End of the Millenium, The Liberated Bride, and A Woman in Jerusalem, which was awarded the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in 2007. He lives in Haifa.