International intrigue, murderous politics, and psychological suspense combine in a stylish literary thriller
An enigmatic Israeli who calls himself Shakespeare – because he’s got a way with words – finds himself jolted on a sidewalk in Manhattan: Is that who I think it is, he wonders, or am I crazy?
Who he thinks it is, is one of the world’s premier terrorists. Someone who murdered his partner. Someone he blames for the fog of despair that’s overcome him. And most shockingly, someone Shakespeare’s mysterious associates in Tel Aviv tell him had been killed in the desert.
So is Shakespeare cracking up, or cracking the case of a lifetime?
In the hands of esteemed Israeli author Joshua Sobol, the wicked riddle becomes a masterful work that transcends genre: It’s a sumptuously written literary novel and a taut spy thriller. It’s a moving recollection of a purposeful youth and a graphic account of the hunt for terrorists. It’s the story of a mid-life crisis and the endless crisis of the Middle East. It’s a work of wild and whimsical word-play and fast-paced, deadly gun-play.
It is, in short, the English-language debut of a mesmerizing writer at the top of his form.
Once, Hanina was a Mossad agent whose team tracked down the murderers of members of Israel’s 1968 Olympic team. Now, he’s the director of an Israeli advertising agency trying to win an account to advertise a new, unisex “super Viagra” that promises not only erections but also stamina, passion, and even love. But on a Manhattan street, Hanina, aka Shakespeare, spots Tino the Syrian, a terrorist he tried to kill in the Libyan desert 18 years earlier. Or not. Sobol, an award-winning Israeli playwright, offers abundant evidence that Hanina is delusional or experiencing a psychic meltdown, but this interpretation is balanced by vivid accounts of his desperate battles against Israel’s enemies. At times, readers might think Hanina represents the memory and conscience of every Israeli, or that Hanina’s endless code names and pseudonyms are signs of his complete loss of identity. It’s heady stuff, filled with unlikely erudition, graceful writing, clever wordplay, and shape-shifting characters and realities, as well as gritty depictions of violence and suffering. Fans of conventional thrillers will likely scratch their heads and give up, but those with a taste for the literary may be seduced by Cut Throat Dog. --Thomas Gaughan
"Cut Throat Dog is truly a piece of captivating literature....Its pages are seductive and sumptuously written, poignantly telling the Jewish history of the 20th century."
—Maayan Jaffe, The Jewish Times
"All of the literary feints and riddles together act as both a send-up and earnest critique of covert culture. [Cut Throat Dog] hints at the way government secrecy bleeds into civilian life, making it even more quixotic and less secure."
—Jonathan Messinger, Time Out Chicago
“In these pages, we leave the macho realm of agents, prostitutes and bars, and find ourselves reliving the harrowing experiences of an entire generation.”
-- The Jerusalem Post
"A breathtaking, brilliantly written, furiously kaleidoscopic series of personal and historical, tragic, comic, bizarre and banal events telling with startling completeness the Jewish history of the 20th century …"
-- Die Zeit