The Hilltop

Translated by Steven Cohen

About The Book

A brilliant and hilarious satirical novel about the state of twenty-first century Israel

On a rock-strewn hilltop in the heart of the West Bank stands a lone second-hand shipping container, a generator and some goats. On this contested land, Othniel Assis – under the wary gaze of the neighbouring Palestinian village – installs his ever-expanding family. As he cheerfully manipulates government agencies, more settlers arrive and, with a hodge-podge of bankers, teachers, kibbutzniks and townies, religious and secular, the outpost takes root. But when a curious journalist stumbles into their midst, the settlement becomes the focus of an international diplomatic scandal.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications (November 6, 2014)
  • Length: 464 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781780745589

Raves and Reviews

'Ambitious… uses fiction to explore the human reality of the settlers’ lives… echoes the wry, ironic tone of Amos Oz… reads more like an American novel than fiction in translation’


'An extraordinary view of contemporary Israeli society... There is much else to admire in the book... it is something entirely new'

– The Guardian

Gavron’s story is infused with gentle, everyday humour and flickers of kindness

– FT

‘Americans may not recognize the portrait of Israel in Assaf Gavron's most recent novel, but Israelis sure will. It's set in an illegal Jewish settlement on the West Bank. The residents are a cross section of Israeli society who joined the settlement for any number of reasons: religious, ideological or simply in search of anonymity. The book deals with Israel's overarching conflicts — Jew versus Jew, Jew versus Palestinian — and presents them with a nuanced complexity that feels very real. It's a funny and ultimately melancholy read.’

– NPR, ‘Great Reads of 2014’

‘a comic and humane novel about the state of Israeli society today… Gavron manages to humanize [the Settlers] while still criticizing’


‘Expansive, humorous ... Gavron’s satiric touches can be coruscating.’

– The New Yorker

‘Gavron treads delicately and lets readers draw their own conclusions’

– Metro

‘Brilliantly attuned to the madhouse complexities of the current settlement crisis ... The superbly orchestrated chaos that results makes this an indispensable novel of, as one character dubs it, the Wild West Bank.’

– Wall Street Journal

‘Writing with crisp insight and dry humor, Israeli author Gavron tells a lively tale of life in an embattled Jewish settlement on an arid, rocky West Bank hilltop in this award-winning novel ... Gabi’s and Roni’s stories unfold gradually, and in the midst of this wise and waggish tale, we may find ourselves feeling unexpectedly invested in these disparate brothers' fates. Slowly and incrementally, like those settlers on that craggy West Bank hilltop, Gavron’s story gains a foothold in our hearts and minds and stubbornly refuses to leave.’

– Kirkus, starred review

‘The great novel of Israel’s inner life.’

– Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

‘A middle vision between the ridiculous and the sublime ... Highlights the way nothing (or no one) is isolated anymore. Investment bankers may become Israeli settlers; Palestinian villagers have lawyers in the family ... The pleasure of The Hilltop is that it doesn't offer easy outcomes’

– David Ulin, Los Angeles Times

‘Gavron expertly works with a large cast of characters to create a resonant portrayal of life at the center of one of the world's main trouble spots ... This novel, an award winner in Israel, is very funny and entertaining.’

– Library Journal

‘A big, ambitious, state-of-the-nation novel… full of powerful moments of high drama’

– Jewish Chronicle

‘The Great Israeli Novel ... Assaf Gavron stakes his claim to be Israel’s Jonathan Franzen . . . Like Franzen, Gavron writes realistic fiction with a comic edge that aims to take the temperature of his whole society, to tell us how Israelis live now ... a cutting satire.’

– Adam Kirsch, Tablet

"Memorable...marked by its great depth of feeling."

– Publishers Weekly

'It is no exaggeration to say that Assaf Gavron is the most exciting, inventive, and though-provoking Israeli novelist of our generation. I loved this book.'

– Reza Aslan, bestselling Iranian-American author of No god but God

The Hilltop is a very funny novel. And it is a very political novel, firing sharp poisoned barbs in all directions’

– Haaretz Books Supplement

‘The new Great Israeli Novel’

– Time Out, Tel Aviv

'This many-storied, funny, shrewd, and tender satire dives into the heart of Israel, a land of trauma and zeal, fierce opinions and endless deliberation. From failed marriages to governmental dysfunction to the tragic Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Gavron’s spirited desert saga embraces the absurd and the profound and advocates for compassion and forgiveness, even joy.'

– Booklist, starred review

‘In The Hilltop, Assaf Gavron tackles the intractable stew that is West Bank settlement. A book that further cements his place as one of today’s truly committed, political Israeli novelists.’

– Nathan Englander, author of What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank

"In The Hilltop, Gavron's unique gift is on full display in all of its eccentric, genre-bending glory. He treads the line between the serious and the absurd, the tragic and the comical, the sincere and the satirical, and creates a sweeping, complex story that raises more questions than it provides answers."

– Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner

'Shimmers with wisdom, truth, humor, and melancholy.'

– Amos Oz, multi award-winning Israeli author

'Assaf Gavron allows us to understand the political situation in the Middle East in careful, profound and nuanced terms. He is unafraid to go into zones of conflict and find the essential human contradictions there. Gavron’s work is engaging in the way that all good literature entertains – it is, in fact, very funny – but it also has lasting purpose. He is one of the most agile and necessary voices of contemporary Israeli literature.'

– Colum McCann, National Book Award-winning author of Let the Great World Spin and TransAtlantic

'Assaf Gavron is one of the most original and powerful writers on the Israeli scene. His clear and honest writing blasts right through the clichés and the politically correct surface to touch the chaotic, ambiguous core of the Israeli identity. The Hilltop is Gavron's latest and most impressive attempt to map the Israeli society. His perspective is a must-read for every seriously curious reader.'

– Etgar Keret, author of The Nimrod Flipout and Suddenly, a Knock at the Door

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