The Debba

The Debba

by Avner Mandelman
3.5 7


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The Debba by Avner Mandelman

Winner of the 2011 Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Crime Novel

In Middle East lore the Debba is a mythical Arab hyena that can turn into a man who lures Jewish children away from their families to teach them the language of the beasts. To the Arabs he is a heroic national symbol; to the Jews he is a terrorist. To David Starkman, “The Debba” is a controversial play, written by his father the war hero, and performed only once, in Haifa in 1946, causing a massive riot. By 1977, David is living in Canada, having renounced his Israeli citizenship and withdrawn from his family, haunted by persistent nightmares about his catastrophic turn as a military assassin for Israel. Upon learning of his father’s gruesome murder, he returns to his homeland for what he hopes will be the final time. Back in Israel, David discovers that his father's will demands he stage the play within forty-five days of his death, and though he is reluctant to comply, the authorities’ evident relief at his refusal convinces him he must persevere. With his father’s legacy on the line, David is forced to reimmerse himself in a life he thought he’d escaped for good.The heart-stopping climax shows that nothing in Israel is as it appears, and not only are the sins of the fathers revisited upon the sons, but so are their virtues—and the latter are more terrible still.  Disguised as a breathtaking thriller, Avner Mandelman’s novel reveals Israel’s double soul, its inherent paradoxes, and its taste for both art and violence. The riddle of the Debba—the myth, the play, and the novel— is nothing less than the tangled riddle of Israel itself.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781590513705
Publisher: Other Press, LLC
Publication date: 07/13/2010
Pages: 368
Product dimensions: 8.22(w) x 5.70(h) x 1.13(d)

About the Author

Avner Mandelman was born in Israel and served in the Israeli Air Force during the Six-Day War. Two of his story collections have been published in Canada, and the story collection Talking to the Enemy was published in the U.S. and chosen by Kirkus as one of the twenty-five best books of 2005, and by the ALA as the first recipient of the Sophie Brody Medal for outstanding achievement in Jewish literature. Several of his stories have won awards in the U.S., Canada, and Israel, including being selected for the Pushcart Prize, and the Journey Prize. His short story, “Pity,” was selected for inclusion in The Best American Short Stories 1995. This is his first novel.

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The Debba 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
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Ann-Cloud More than 1 year ago
What a great book. Was intrigued by the good reviews, so took a chance and am very glad I did! It was a true page-turner, and I found myself reading it very quickly - this was partly due to the excellent writing that draws you into the story. Short synopsis: It is the late 1970's and the main character (living in Canada) has received a phone call from Israel informing him that his father has been murdered. He returns to his homeland only to get caught up in the strange request that his father has made in his will and finds himself in the middle of the hunt for his father's killer. The book was fast-paced - the author expertly draws you into the story and holds you there until the last sentence. If you are looking for that book that you can't put down, this is it. HIghly recommended!