An Egyptian Novel

An Egyptian Novel
Orly Castel-Bloom

The protagonist has Egyptian roots going back many generations: on her father’s side, to the expulsion of the Jews of Spain in 1492 when seven brothers of the Kastil family, from Castilla, landed on the Gaza coast after many trials and tribulations. Her mother’s side goes back even further - 3,000 years before that - for she is a descendant of the only family that Jewish history has ignored: the one that said 'No' to Moses and stayed in Egypt. This family migrated to Israel in the 1950s and settled on a kibbutz, but they were soon expelled for Stalinism, and moved to Tel Aviv.
Mixing historical and biographical facts, made-up legends plus other fictions and exaggerations, Castel-Bloom writes an unconventional saga of her family, the Kastils. As in other sagas, there are family meals and get-togethers, deaths and funerals, sayings and stories, and things that are not to be mentioned because they disgrace the family. But here these elements all slip and slide sideways into parody and the absurd.
In this colorful book, a series of deaths becomes truly comic. But ultimately, it is about ruin, the downfall of ideals and great dreams, and the irrelevance of innocence in Israel today. With great daring, Castel-Bloom takes her enormous talent to new heights.


Orly Castel-Bloom was born in Tel Aviv in 1960 to parents originally from Egypt. After studying film at the Beit Zvi Institute and Tel Aviv University, she published her first collection of stories in 1987 and has been a leading voice in Hebrew literature ever since, constantly expanding the boundaries of the Hebrew language as well as of narrative style. Castel-Bloom has lectured at Harvard University, UCLA, UC Berkeley, New York University as well as at Oxford and Cambridge Universities; at present she teaches creative writing at Tel Aviv University. She has published novels, collections of short stories, and a book for children. Her postmodern classic, Dolly City, has been included in UNESCO's Collection of Representative Works, and was nominated in 2007 one of the ten most important books since the creation of the State of Israel. In 2013, it was also listed by Tablet Magazine as one of the 101 Great Jewish Books in English translation.
Castel-Bloom has received the Tel Aviv Foundation Award (1990), the Alterman Prize for Innovation (1993), the Prime Minister's Prize three times (1994; 2001; 2011), the Newman Prize (2003), the French WIZO Prize for Human Parts (2005) and the Lea Goldberg Prize (2007). Her books have been published in 14 languages. ITHL

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License