Silwan

Moshe Weinstein—peacemaker, activist, model husband, human rights hero, loving friend, with a famously even temperament. But also, a murderer, driven to jealous rages?

Judah Loeb, middle-aged, twice divorced, his one true-crime bestseller a distant memory, is about to lose his job at the LA Times, yet another victim of the new media. But out of nowhere, Cliff, an old friend from his Harvard days, appears and offers him a fat contract to write a book solving the biggest true mystery of all—why can’t the Israelis and Palestinians make peace?

Silwan, Philip Graubart's latest novel, explores the clashing narratives of Jerusalem's Jews and Muslims, while it probes the darker regions of the soul.

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At a Glance

Title: Silwan
Author: Philip Graubart
Publisher: Inkwater Press
Pages: 282
Trim Size: 5.5″ × 8.5″

Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-62901-393-0
Price: $16.95

Kindle
ISBN: 978-1-62901-394-7
Price: $9.99

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About the Book

Moshe Weinstein—peacemaker, activist, model husband, human rights hero, loving friend, with a famously even temperament. But also, a murderer, driven to jealous rages?

Judah Loeb, middle-aged, twice divorced, his one true-crime bestseller a distant memory, is about to lose his job at the LA Times, yet another victim of the new media. But out of nowhere, Cliff, an old friend from his Harvard days, appears and offers him a fat contract to write a book solving the biggest true mystery of all—why can’t the Israelis and Palestinians make peace? Judah’s not sure what’s behind Cliff—is he a CIA agent, a Mossad operative, or part of something even more sinister? But Judah doesn’t care; he needs the money. His first assignment: interview another old college friend, an Israeli-American named Moshe Weinstein.

Judah takes the job but not just for the money. Moshe, his former best friend, is now married to Ilana, Judah’s first girlfriend and one true love. Judah wrangles an invitation from Moshe and flies to Jerusalem.

But the larger passions of the endless Israeli-Palestinian war quickly narrow and become deeply personal when a young Palestinian man, one of Moshe’s assistants, is found dead, hit by a car, near his home in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan. Moshe’s car is covered with blood and the tire tracks match his; he’s quickly arrested and charged with murder. Moshe’s wife suspects a frame-up and enlists Judah, her old lover, to investigate the crime and prove Moshe innocent.

Judah agrees and enlists yet another old friend, the Palestinian journalist Rafik, a Silwan resident with his own shadowy agenda. But does Judah still have the investigative chops to uncover a conspiracy, in a foreign country, in the Middle East, where no one seems to mean what they say? Does he even want to set his old friend and rival free?

Silwan, Philip Graubart’s latest novel, explores the clashing narratives of Jerusalem’s Jews and Muslims, while it probes the darker regions of the soul.

Excerpt

I’d planned to catch up on some Israel-related reading later that day—the day we met Yusuf—after Moshe dropped us off. But jet lag defeated me, and I fell into bed, and then a deep sleep. But then I awoke with a start at 2 a.m. I was wide awake. I looked at Hannah in the twin bed next to mine. She was sleeping peacefully, breathing softly, her mouth slightly open so I could see her tongue stud gleaming in the moonlight. I knew falling back to sleep would be a hopeless task. I thought about grabbing a book, turning on the lamp, but I didn’t want to wake Hannah. Also, this was no ordinary sleeplessness. My eyes were so open I couldn’t blink without a concerted physical effort. I felt vibrations in my hips and feet, as if the bed was shaking me loose. I had to rise, get up, move. I threw on shorts, a t-shirt; found my flip flops in my suitcase. Did the German Colony have all night bars or twenty-four hour diners? I’d find out.

It didn’t. I headed down the stairs, wincing at the thwocking sound my flip flops made, hoping I wasn’t waking up the building. The gate leading to the street squeaked annoyingly when I swung it open, and then blew shut with a clang after I let it go. But no lights went on, and no one shouted at me to be quiet. Maybe I hadn’t disturbed anyone. The night air was surprisingly cool. In Silwan I sweated through my jeans, and in bed I’d thrown off the thin sheet Moshe had given me. But now I shivered and my bare arms were covered with goose bumps. But I couldn’t go back for a sweatshirt; I couldn’t bear the sound of that clanging, squeaking gate, or the thump of my own footsteps. Instead I walked quickly. Might as well get in a workout, I thought. A three-hour walk and then—well, a quick rest, and then another hour, and then someone might be up. Or maybe Ilana would be back.

I turned left on Emek Refaim. In five quick strides I found myself staring up at the old Arab building with the spires that Ilana had said she’d live in once she returned to Jerusalem, and I’d told her we’d live there together, and she giggled. Memories flooded my brain, undifferentiated, cascading: Ilana and I holding hands in the same spot; making out in a park down the block, on a bench under a tree; arguing about who should pay the phone bill, with me adoring her even as she grew increasingly impatient with my inability to get mad at her; Ilana breaking up with me the first time outside my dorm room, and me managing to talk her out of it, at least temporarily, astonishing myself that my combination of brute logic (“You’ll be bored the rest of the year!”) and appeal to ego (“No one will ever make you feel as loved as I do.”) actually worked. The memories weren’t sequential or even distinct. The Arab building was like an electric prod in the brain, or a memory drug that summoned the entire Ilana/Israel- Israel/Ilana saga all at once. It was like a hammer to the brain; I felt an actual headache coming on and longed for an Advil.

About the Author

Philip Graubart

Philip is the West Coast Vice President for Shalom Hartman of North America. He’s also a rabbi, who has served pulpits in New York City, Northampton and San Diego. He has published six books, including four novels, most recently Silwan, a murder mystery. He has also published hundreds of articles and opinions pieces in dozens of journals. Phillip is married to Rabbi Susan Freeman, and has two sons, Benjamin and Ilan. He lives in La Jolla, CA.

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