International voices from Other Press: Following on the success of The Mersault Investigation and Guapa and the upcoming Israeli bestseller Three Floors Up, The Diamond Setter is poised to take its place amongst an esteemed list of emerging Middle Eastern voices.
Setting: Moshe Sakal depicts a vibrant and richly imagined Middle East before the borders were closed and the walls were built, when Arabs and Jews lived side by side.
LGBT angle: Much as Guapa shone a light on what it means to be a gay man in the Middle East, Sakal creates a tender and vivid portrayal of gay life in contemporary Israel.
“Richly evocative.” —Booklist
“A kaleidoscopic journey into the Middle East of the present and the not-so-distant past…As the mystery of the diamond unfolds, characters’ paths cross in unexpected ways—reminding the reader that we are all, in some way or another, connected.” —Kirkus Reviews
“If you enjoy richly plotted intergenerational stories inspired by true events, Moshe Sakal’s The Diamond Setter offers bountiful pleasures…a gloriously immersive journey into different cultures.” —Forward
“…what’s best is the unselfconsciously sensuous writing (with a range of sexuality easily accepted) and the beautifully depicted sense of a time gone by when borders were open and Jew and Arab commingled.” —Library Journal
“[An] essential read…[one] of 2018’s biggest titles…a vital depiction of queer life in the Middle East.” —Entertainment Weekly
“There are…sparkling, beautiful passages in this novel…The Diamond Setter is very relevant: Jaffa and Tel Aviv represent a modern city’s role in justice, the quest for equality, and continuing rationality in a very irrational area of the world.” —Huffington Post
“Sakal makes room for his narrative to encompass huge issues: the geopolitics of the Middle East, gentrification, sexuality, borders, aging, and the bonds of family. Yet this book never feels ponderous: Sakal keeps things moving briskly throughout…the charm of the novel’s characters and the humanism with which Sakal tells this story go a long way.” —Words Without Borders
“Well written, masterfully translated by Jessica Cohen, and rewards rereading.” —New York Journal of Books
“Lush, imaginative, and seductive, Moshe Sakal’s The Diamond Setter offers a perfect combination of passion, suspense, insight, and beauty. Jessica Cohen’s brilliant translation only further enhances the reading experience, making it into a true literary treat.” —Ruby Namdar, author of The Ruined House
“A fascinating glimpse into an early twentieth-century Middle East, where familial entanglements and intimacies of all kinds still flourished between Jews and Arabs.” —Judith Frank, author of All I Love and Know
“Moshe Sakal’s books make me miss a life I never lived. In The Diamond Setter, he surpasses himself [with] the blue diamond’s wonderful journey across continents and nations. A rare book by a rare writer.” —Ari Folman, Golden Globe winner and Oscar nominee for Waltz with Bashir
“The blue diamond ‘Sabakh’ becomes the underlying common thread that interweaves fascinating and beautiful characters, bridging different generations and countries in this captivating novel from Moshe Sakal. The Diamond Setter is a mystery that unfolds brilliantly. I cannot recommend it enough.” —Hasan Namir, Lambda Literary Award–winning author of God in Pink
“Moshe Sakal’s The Diamond Setter is an ambitious novel that is epic in scope (even while most of its geography comes back to a small section of Tel Aviv/Jaffa) and at the same time tightly focused on the intergenerational lives and loves of its characters. Like one of the titular multi-faceted gemstones, it’s reflective and refractive—actively twisting and weaving our perceptions of history and myth (personal myths and national myths) and even the very notions of narrative itself, breaking the fourth wall of the novel as it explores activism, politics, pinkwashing, and the Arab Spring, love triangles, and the notions of home and the right(s) of return.” —Lawrence Schimel, two-time Lambda Literary Award–winning author and translator
“With beautiful and loving language, Sakal looks through the eyes of [his characters] to tell a story of Jaffa and Damascus in the early part of the last century, and today. The pages exude the aromas of a vibrant life that has since vanished.” —Haaretz
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