City of a Thousand Gates: A Novel (Hardcover)
“A stunning first novel…imbued with foreboding at every turn…Through her vibrant characters, Sacks paints a moving and powerful portrait of those who love the region passionately despite its many tensions and dangers.” --Booklist (Starred Review)
"A beautifully written, brave, and incredibly compassionate novel. I couldn’t put it down.” --Etaf Rum
"Sacks deeply humanizes a conflict that dehumanizes on every level.” --Nicole Krauss
Brave and bold, this gorgeously written novel introduces a large cast of characters from various backgrounds in a setting where violence is routine and where survival is defined by boundaries, walls, and checkpoints that force people to live and love within and across them.
Hamid, a college student, has entered Israeli territory illegally for work. Rushing past soldiers, he bumps into Vera, a German journalist headed to Jerusalem to cover the story of Salem, a Palestinian boy beaten into a coma by a group of revenge-seeking Israeli teenagers. On her way to the hospital, Vera runs in front of a car that barely avoids hitting her. The driver is Ido, a new father traveling with his American wife and their baby. Ido is distracted by thoughts of a young Jewish girl murdered by a terrorist who infiltrated her settlement. Ori, a nineteen-year-old soldier from a nearby settlement, is guarding the checkpoint between Bethlehem and Jerusalem through which Samar—Hamid’s professor—must pass.
These multiple strands open this magnificent and haunting novel of present-day Israel and Palestine, following each of these diverse characters as they try to protect what they love. Their interwoven stories reveal complicated, painful truths about life in this conflicted land steeped in hope, love, hatred, terror, and blood on both sides.
City of a Thousand Gates brilliantly evokes the universal drives that motivate these individuals to think and act as they do—desires for security, for freedom, for dignity, for the future of one’s children, for land that each of us, no matter who or where we are, recognize and share.
About the Author
REBECCA SACKS graduated from the Programs in Writing at the University of California, Irvine. In 2019, she received a Canada Council for the Arts grant, as well as the Joseph F. McCrindle Foundation’s Henfield Prize for fiction. She has been awarded fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Juniper Summer Writing Institute and the Mellon-Sawyer Documenting War Seminar Series. After graduating from Dartmouth College, she worked for several years at Vanity Fair before moving to Israel, where she received a master’s in Jewish Studies. Her dispatches from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem have been published in journals such as the Paris Review Daily. Rebecca Sacks is a citizen of Canada, the United States and Israel.
"Probing and investigative, City of a Thousand Gates illustrates the endless reverberations of political conflict and its violence within the most intimate corners of personal life. Sacks deeply humanizes a conflict that dehumanizes on every level.”
— Nicole Krauss
“This beautiful novel manages to inhabit the experience of multiple characters across the Israel/Palestine divide. It is fascinating, compelling, and propulsive, building to a conclusion that is as inevitable as it is shocking.”
— Ayelet Waldman
“Smart on the eternal sorrows of an endless conflict, City of a Thousand Gates is rich with the pleasures that only a novel can provide: the ironies, the insights, the puncturing of the political pieties. Panoramic in scope, devastating in its detail, Sacks’s novel spares no one, but sympathetically, emphatically, with tremendous love.”
— Joshua Ferris
“A nuanced, powerful portrait of what it means to be caught in the reality of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the West Bank. I found myself and my family in the pages of this beautifully written, brave, and incredibly compassionate novel. I couldn’t put it down.”
— Etaf Rum
“This gripping, multi-balanced tale of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict sweeps readers into a whirl of a story. A multitude of characters and perspectives move around two murders at the heart of this book, giving us a sweeping, ambitious, and deeply authentic look at the passions and preoccupations that ignite the region. This captivating novel will linger with readers long after the final page is turned.”
— Diana Abu Jaber
“In her enthralling kaleidoscope of a first novel, Rebecca Sacks coldly, hotly, deftly, examines the violence that can underpin solidarity, and the vice grip of history on our present. CITY OF A THOUSAND GATES reminded me what fiction can do that ideology and religion cannot: Show us our paradoxes.” --Danzy Senna
— Danzy Senna
“A stunning first novel…imbued with foreboding at every turn…Through her vibrant characters, Sacks paints a moving and powerful portrait of those who love the region passionately despite its many tensions and dangers.”
— Booklist (starred review)
“Ambitious and panoramic… Sacks demonstrates a deep knowledge of the West Bank and its people, whose extraordinary, tension-filled lives embody the region’s challenges and contradictions…She does an excellent job of inhabiting the many points of view through strong voices and rich emotion, making palpable the hate and love at odds not only across cultures but within individual hearts.”
— Publishers Weekly
“This ambitious, forceful debut novel personalizes with startling clarity the seemingly unsolvable conundrum that is the Middle East. This is a thinking reader’s book.”
— Library Journal
“As these characters fight for the future they believe in, a common humanity reveals itself in heart-wrenching ways.”
— --Elle Magazine Best Books of 2021