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  • John Murray

The Man Who Sold Air in the Holy Land

Omer Friedlander

7 Reviews

Rated 0

Short stories

'Extraordinarily imaginative . . . every one of these stories moved me' SIGRID NUNEZ; an exceptional short story collection set in conflict zones in the Middle East by a prize-winning debut author

'In these wise, capacious, achingly beautiful stories, Omer Friedlander maps the hidden geography of the human heart like a young Chekhov' ANTHONY MARRA

'A beautiful debut by a deeply humane writer. Every story is a vivid world unto itself, intensely felt, and often revelatory' NICOLE KRAUSS

A divorced con-artist and his young daughter sell empty bottles of 'holy' air to credulous tourists.

In a bombed-out Beirut radio station, a Lebanese Scheherazade enchants three young soldiers with her nightly tales.

Ahead of a school 'Show and Tell', two brothers kidnap a Shoah survivor from a supermarket to pose as their grandfather.

An Israeli volunteer at a West Bank checkpoint mourns the death of her son, a soldier killed in Gaza.


From the limestone alleyways of Jerusalem to the desolate Negev Desert and the sprawling orange groves of Jaffa, Omer Friedlander's stories are fairy tales turned on their head by the stakes of real life, where moments of fragile intimacy mix with comedy and notes of the absurd.

Casting his eye, not on the region's conflicts, but on the hopes and failures of its people, The Man Who Sold Air in the Holy Land is at times darkly funny, at others quietly devastating.

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Praise for The Man Who Sold Air in the Holy Land

  • A marvelous new voice, bringing magic, change and surprise without ever losing sight of the human and the real. I'd follow this writer anywhere

  • What is most striking is how full of deeply felt human experience and authentic emotion his fiction is. Every one of these stories moved me and taught me something I did not know before

  • As outrageously funny as they are outrageously tender, Friedlander's stories conjure complex and often difficult emotions with perfect acrobatic skill. A superb collection

  • Rarely do we encounter a writer so young but also this wise. Innovative in conception, classical in spirit: a splendid literary debut

  • A remarkable talent. These stories transcend the particular to become intricately crafted fables, each a country unto itself

  • One of those rare authors who can trap each moment in a surprising and somehow perfect detail. A major work - I'd urge you to read it

  • Beautifully written . . . an exceptionally thoughtful writer

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Omer Friedlander

Omer Friedlander was born in Jerusalem and grew up in Tel Aviv. He earned a BA in English Literature from the University of Cambridge, and an MFA from Boston University, where he was supported by the Saul Bellow Fellowship. His short stories have won numerous awards, and have been published in the United States, Canada, France, and Israel. A Starworks Fellow in Fiction at New York University, he has earned a Bread Loaf Work-Study Scholarship as well as a fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center. He currently lives in New York City.

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