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The Diamond Setter

3.29  ·  Rating details ·  122 ratings  ·  25 reviews
Inspired by true events, this best-selling Israeli novel traces a complex web of love triangles, homoerotic tensions, and family secrets across generations and borders, illuminating diverse facets of life in the Middle East.

The uneventful life of a jeweler from Tel Aviv changes abruptly in 2011 after Fareed, a handsome young man from Damascus, crosses illegally into Israel
Paperback, 304 pages
Published March 20th 2018 by Other Press (NY)
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Average rating 3.29  · 
Rating details
 ·  122 ratings  ·  25 reviews

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Elyse (retired from reviewing/semi hiatus) Walters
In the first chapter....
Menashe, in his 60’s, works almost exclusively with regulars. He’s their family diamond setter.
Achlama, in her 20’s, just return to Tel Aviv after living in New York for five years where she studied history in college. She begins her apprenticeship working in the jewelry shop for her uncle Menashe.
This journey just begins.....
...there is back story hanging - of interest - about both these characters...
but let ‘that be’ for awhile...
If you choose to
Optimist ♰King's Wench♰
I'm sad to say I'm throwing the towel in on this one. I've tried three times to read it. The first time I thought I just wasn't in the mood for it. The second I thought needed to get my head on straight. But this time... I just can't do it. I wish I could because the setting, blurb, cover and premise appealed to me.

I'm sure there is an audience for this book. I'm sure there's a story in here somewhere. I'm sure all these loose ends are going to culminate in something, but I haven't the patience
Nov 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
At the moment, I'm sorting the reasons why I loved reading this story in my mind.

First of all I enjoyed Sakal's writing and how his many faceted story ended up in one diamond just like the Sabakh diamond around which his story is centred.

by Christopher Stevens

Secondly the fact that Sakal showed me a different picture of what the Middle East really is, a diamond made up of may facets, each facet needing the other to allow the diamond to show itself in it's brilliance. His intertwining of
Mar 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars

You can also find this review on my book blog.

love the cover of this book and that’s the first thing that attracted me to it and then the blurb which sounded so interesting. This isn’t a typical read for me but I am so glad I got the chance to read it because it’s good to read something different than your usual reads from time to time. I must confess that I really liked reading this book.

The Diamond Setter is a story that spans through generations and at the center of it is one
Feb 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
My review appears in New York Journal of Books .
Steve Woods
Jul 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: gay-fiction
I found this one very average. Hard to follow and not much substance.
Mar 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: didn-t-finish
Sadly I bailed around page 150. Several intriguing characters and a comfortable way of story telling, but the chapters started feeling loosely strung together. One of the characters suggests that readers like a story with a linear plot. And while I don't necessarily need that, I do need to know where I am headed and I lost that here. Too bad.
May 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: gay
There's a long, middle section of this book where the stories are layered on top of each other and it's lovely to read. But there is also this bookend structure that I found a bit confusing. I'm still not entirely sure what character names go with what decade. They blur a bit for me. But perhaps that's also part of the point.
Mar 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent! The Diamond Setter is a multilayered multi-generational story set in Israel and other middle east locations. You'll love the stories with in stories of the overlapping family tales and secrets. The only think missing is a family tree. Short of that it's near perfect.
Benjamin Farr
Jun 19, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2018, lgbtqi
I tried, but failed, to engage with this novel. Having read other Goodreads reviews, I also found the non-linear plot confusing and unfortunately wasn't able to connect with any of the characters.
May 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Behind a rather generic title and an equally generic premise – the fate of a priceless diamond – hides a gorgeous novel that subtly paints the portrait of a complicated area – mostly Israel and its neighbor Syria - through numerous characters, tumultuous times and different eras, going back, thanks to elaborately constructed flash-backs and stories within stories, to the days when Jews and Muslims were friendly neighbors living in the same towns throughout the region. Moshe Sakal has woven a ...more
May 04, 2018 rated it liked it
A book about multiple loves, deep-hidden secrets and the slow evolution of the Middle East into a story of deep hate, The Diamond Setter has a powerful story - 'inspired by true events'. The intricated memory legacies of a Jewish family from Syria forced by the unfriendly political circumstances to emigrate to Israel are explored under a sexual angle, but it is obviously more to the story than that. Connecting the love story dots with a diamond of impressive value brings a charm worth a ...more
May 10, 2018 rated it liked it
An interesting book that is part biography, part mystery, part family history, and part myth about the intertwining lives of a large cast of characters that centers in Jaffa and are somehow all connected to a long-lost rare blue diamond known as “Sabakh.” The portrayal of the LGBTQ scene in Tel Aviv, for both Arabs and Jews, was interesting but I had trouble keeping all of the characters straight. I think I would need to re-read it to fit all of the pieces together but I didn't like it enough to ...more
Bayliss Camp
Jan 17, 2019 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Samuel Elmaleh
Aug 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Un fameux diamant maudit relie les destins de familles juives et musulmanes. L’auteur de ce beau roman nous ferait oublier le statut inférieur des Juifs en pays d’islam. Parfois des faits historiques percolent à travers un filtre enjoliveur. Agréable lecture à condition de garder ces distances des voeux pieux d’un auteur appartenant incontestablement à la gauche israélienne dont il partage la myopie.
Jul 31, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I am sorry. I had to give up. I read 43% and rarely give up if I've read that far. I want to say there were too many characters to keep track of, but i have read many books with a lot of characters. I think the difference is that they were written in a way that kept me engaged in the story and able to keep track of them. Unfortunately, this one was not!
Apr 16, 2019 rated it liked it
I would probably describe this book as a whirlwind of characters and plot. I think overall the author very cleverly tied all the people and the diamond in question together, but the plot didn’t quite work for me. The references to places in Tel Aviv etc and the use of Hebrew and Arabic expressions transports you into the Middle East quite well and paints its picture during various eras.
Apr 08, 2019 rated it did not like it
The premise sounded really interesting, but the execution did not compel me enough to finish this book. With a better editor, this book could have been much more enjoyable to read.
Dec 19, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: netgalley
*eARC Netgalley*
Nov 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
Too many characters that were not well developed...several would do.
Jennifer Paton Smith
Mar 18, 2019 rated it did not like it
I did not enjoy this book. The dialogue is wooden, the characters aren't well developed. The only good aspects are the descriptions of places and historical times.
Jan 15, 2019 rated it it was ok
I had to give this one up on page 80, too many characters and too hard to follow. I wanted to like it, but it lost its charm early on.
Aug 15, 2018 rated it liked it
I found this book to be engaging, however I felt it read as a collection of short stories rather than a novel. The Diamond Setter centered around the "famous blue diamond known as "Sabakh." With each chapter centering on a different character, their stories tell about Tel Aviv, Damascus and Jaffa, their romances and relationships and how this diamond has effected their lives. I found the novel, which was based on a true story, to be a slow start but I ended up becoming involved in the ...more
Oct 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
The best way to describe this book is “a conglomeration of loose ends tied together with an overwhelming sense of smug meta-awareness.” Several times throughout this collection of pages trying to pass itself off as a novel the story tries to get started but it's always interrupted by the author posing as a character in his own book so he can inform the reader of his Grand Plan. A plan, I might add, that is never put into motion because he spends so much time talking about it. Show, don't tell!

Magda Radu
rated it really liked it
Nov 07, 2018
rated it it was ok
Apr 06, 2018
Sean Drate
rated it liked it
Oct 31, 2018
Adam Jacobson
rated it really liked it
Jan 01, 2019
rated it liked it
Oct 31, 2018
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