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"A Woman in Jerusalem" by A.B. Yehoshua

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"A Woman in Jerusalem" begins with the discovery by a baking tycoon that a former employee has died and her corpse has languished in the morgue for a week. Worse, a second-rate journalist eager for a wider readership has picked up and sensationalized the story to make the baking company look bad.

The acting and somewhat reluctant HR director has a fairly cyincal view of the company owner's motivation when he is assigned a damage-control function. He investigates the case, and the first thing he learns is that everyone except himself thinks the woman who died was beautiful, engaging, and caring. Even though he interviewed her before her hire, the HR director cannot remember her. What follows is a trek from Israel to Russia - the corpse, the HR director, the journalist, and the dead woman's unruly son - to have the woman buried in her home town. What happens along the way is really the story here.

The trek means something different to each of our questors. The story deals principally with the HR director (all characters except the deceased are identified only by their titles), who knows something is missing from his life. On the way he is physically and morally purged, and returns to Jerusalem a new man. It's nothing very obvious, but we know of the change, nonetheless.

This is a story about individual and communal courage in the face of terrorism. It's also about the extraordinary steps that are sometimes necessary to maintain one's humanity under this constant threat. Mr. Yehoshua has spun an engaging, honest tale, and the sometimes stilted language is a purposeful thing, reflective of the mechanistic workings of modern corporations.
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