Modern Life in the Levant
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Published in: May-June 2018 issue.


The Diamond Setter
by Moshe Sakal
Translated by Jessica Cohen
Other Press. 304 pages, $15.95


THIS INVENTIVE, engaging novel from Israel, inspired by true events, traces the history of two families through their connection to a piece of a famous blue diamond known as Sabakh. Along the way, it explores the history of Israel and the state of the country today, mainly through the cities of Tel Aviv and Jaffa.

            Sakal writes in an afterword that the book is “an amalgamation of historical facts, family stories, and the fruits of my imagination.” The story begins in Menashe’s jewelry shop in Tel Aviv. A longtime customer is returning a piece of Sabakh to Menashe that had been robbed from the store years earlier. The perspective then switches to Tom, Menashe’s nephew, who’s working as an apprentice to the jeweler. A writer as well, Tom narrates most of the story while writing a novel called The Diamond Setter, involving much of the same plot as the novel he appears in. This “meta-narrative” is done in a playful way, and allows Tom and others to make amusing comments about writers and the creative process.

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Charles Green is a writer based in Annapolis, Maryland.