by Yael Flusberg

Unidentified Body, Identity Crisis

The title of A.B. Yehoshua’s latest novel, A Woman in Jerusalem, (Harcourt, translated by Hillel Halkin, $25) suggests the beginning of its plot: a woman in her late 40s dies of a suicide bombing in a Jerusalem market, and lies unidentified in a hospital morgue for days. When a journalist discovers a pay stub in her purse, the victim becomes the only character in the book to have a name: Yulia Ragayev. (All others are known only by what they do or by their relationship to the narrator, first known as the human resources manager, and later as the emissary.) In due course, other key biographical facts emerge: Yulia was a non- Jewish engineer from the former Soviet Union who lived in an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood, and worked as a cleaning woman on the night shift in a large bakery.

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