Review of The Hilltop in Library Journal

“Funny and entertaining….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.”—Library Journal

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Starred review for The Hilltop in Kirkus Reviews

Another starred review…

“… crisp insight and dry humor… 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.”

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Starred Review of The Hilltop in Booklist

(STARRED REVIEW)
The Hilltop.

Gavron, Assaf (Author)

Israeli settler Othniel just wants to grow some arugula, some tomatoes, and keep a goat. He wanders out of his settlement onto a hilltop overlooking the Judean desert and a Palestinian village and comes upon the ideal plot of land. Soon he’s the unofficial leader of an illegal little settlement contending with a monstrous web of red tape. Israeli novelist Gavron (Almost Dead, 2010) populates this outlaw outpost with transfixing characters, focusing most on two kibbutz-raised brothers. Gabi came to the hilltop as a “reborn” intent on living simply and honestly with God. Roni is a fugitive from a misadventure in America. Both are risk-takers, but Roni, who quickly negotiates a deal to sell Palestinian olive oil, is calculating, while emotional Gabi is a victim of his demonically vengeful anger. As Gavron slowly reveals their rollercoaster pasts, life on the hilltop grows evermore imperiled as the rogue settlers finally provoke the wrath of the epically ambivalent authorities by triggering an international incident. 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.

- Donna Seaman

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Piece on Tel Aviv Noir in JTA

“The 14 stories in “Tel Aviv Noir,” all original and commissioned for this volume, are divided into three categories: Encounter, Estrangements and Corpses. Keret and Gavron agreed that a major goal of the anthology was to bring a younger generation of writers to English-speaking audiences.”

Article by Beth Kissileff for the JTW

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Review of Tel Aviv Noir in Kirkus Reviews

“Even in the Holy Land, people find ingenious ways to screw up their own lives, as the latest entry in Akashic’s Noir series proves.”

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Starred review of Tel Aviv Noir in Booklist

(Starred review)

Tel Aviv Noir.

Keret, Etgar (Editor) and Gavron, Assaf (Editor)

For those unfamiliar with the city, Tel Aviv conjures upcontrasting images of sunny beaches and political turmoil, but, like other urban landscapes, it has a noir underbelly where human passions run deep. This latest installment in Akashic’s series of noir short-story anthologies shows readers that hidden Tel Aviv. Only one of the 14 stories, each set in a different neighborhood, could be considered a traditional mystery, but most feature individuals under some kind of duress. In “The Time-Slip Detective,” Lavie Tidhar tells the story of a sleuth who moves between parallel worlds as he works in two dimensions, while Gadi Taub’s “Sleeping Mask” illustrates what happens when the owner of an escort service falls in love with one of his girls. “Slow Cooking,” by Deakla Keydar, is less dark, offering a touching story about an abandoned wife who finds solace and purpose when she volunteers to cook meals for African refugees. This consistently strong collection showcases a group of Israeli writers who are not well known in the U.S. Definitely one of the highlights in the long-running Akashic series. — Barbara Bibel

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Review of The Hilltop in Publishers Weekly

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Review of Tel Aviv Noir in Publishers Weekly

Review of Tel Aviv Noir forthcoming in the August 25 issue of Publishers Weekly:

Israeli founding father David Ben-Gurion famously stated, “We will know we have become a normal country when Jewish thieves and Jewish prostitutes conduct their business in Hebrew.” That “normality” is certainly evident in the 14 stories in this routine Akashic anthology, which feature murderers, hookers, pimps, drug dealers, and mobsters, both Jewish and Arab, though it’s not always clear how they fit the noir label. Some selections could have been transplanted from Tel Aviv to other cities with only minor changes—and none deals with politics or the Palestinian situation. The standouts are Gai Ad’s “The Expendables” and Antonio Ungar’s “Said the Good.” James M. Cain would recognize the setup of Ad’s story, in which the life of an attractive widow takes a violent turn after her husband’s cancer-related death leaves her at loose ends. Ungar’s tale of warring organized crime factions would certainly make Ben-Gurion feel , for better or worse, that Israel is now normal. (Oct.)

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Starred review for Tel Aviv Noir in Library Journal

Forthcoming in the September issue of Library Journal:

Since the start, Akashic’s short story series has been a classy enterprise, specializing in crime noir set in specific locations. The 66th volume may be the very best in a generally solid series. Edited by noted Israeli writers Keret (Suddenly, A Knock at the Door) and Gavron (Almost Dead), this collection runs the gamut from Lavie Tidhar’s fantasy of a detective who works in parallel worlds (“The Time-Slip Detective”) to Matan Hermoni’s “Women” about a writer who inherits a ghost and Deakla Keydar’s touching story (“Slow Cooking”) of an abandoned wife who finds purpose aiding African refugees who are worse off than she is. Shimon Adaf’s gnomic contribution, “My Father’s Kingdom,” is only nominally a detective tale. In it, a student becomes obsessed with the esoteric poems of a poet who committed suicide. It reads like Franz Kafka filtered through Jorge Louis Borges. Antonio Ungar’s “Säid the Good” tells a remorselessly unsentimental account of star-crossed lovers, vengeance, and death, and in the most conventional offering, Assaf Gavron’s “Center,” a PI tracks down a missing person by following the trail of his severed parts. VERDICT This collection escapes the limits of formula fiction and sets the bar high for subsequent “Noir” offerings. The genre is hot, Tel Aviv is exotic, and this volume is outstanding. What’s not to like? [Scribner is publishing Gavron’s Bernstein Award–winning The Hilltop in October.—Ed.]—David Keymer, Modesto, CA

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Tweet about the Hilltop from Belgium

Belgian TV journalist Patrick van Gompel with a nice tweet on The Hilltop

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Review of The Hilltop in NRC-Handelsblad, Holland

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Tel Aviv Noir published in Hebrew

Tel Aviv Noir, an anthology of Noir stories set in Tel Aviv, by 14 writers, co-edited by Etgar Keret and myself, was published in Hebrew by Kinneret-Zmora-Bitan. The English edition will be published in October.

Read about it on the Akashic website (English) >>>

Buy (Hebrew) >>>

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Interview in The Ilanot Review

“I tend to do a lot of research, probably too much. As someone who lives in Tel Aviv and who is secular, I needed to at least connect to the place, to the people and to the synagogue. I needed to see how people live.”

Interview in the summer 2014 issue of Ilanot Review, The Bar Ilan University English department quarterly. Interview by Nadia Jacobson.

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Piece on Gaza etc., published in Sweden, Italy, Holland, Germany and Greece

My piece on Gaza and the current situation was published in newspapers in Sweden, Italy, Holland and Germany. Read the article in:

Dagens Nyheter (Swedish) >>>

La Republica (Italian) >>>

NRC Handelsblad (Dutch) >>>

Die Zeit (German) >>>

To vima (Greek) >>>

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On current affairs in German newspaper Koelner Stadt-Anzeiger

A few points about the current Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza and Tel Aviv, published in German newspaper Koelner Stadt-Anzeiger. Interview by Martin Oehlen

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Interview in Giornale di Brescia

Interview by Francesco Mannoni, published in Italian newspaper Giornale di Brescia.

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The Hilltop out in Holland

The Hilltop was published in Dutch translation by publisher Nieuw Amsterdam.

The book’s page on the publisher’s website >>>

Online shop >>>

Sample of first chapters and info (Dutch) >>>

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Interview in the Jerusalem Report

“America has always fascinated me, and I mean the heart of America not just New York or L.A.”

An interview about The Hilltop (which WAS on the bestsellers lists despite what is claimed there…), The Jerusalem Book Fair and more by Judith Sudilovsky published in the Jerusalem Report.

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Reviews of Croc Attack in Greek newspapers

Here is a review from Greek newspaper, KATHIMERINI.

Read review (Greek) >>>

And here’s another review published in Greece earlier this month (June 3rd), from the local newspaper of Arta town.

Read review (Greek) >>>

And another (Greek) >>>

And another (Greek) >>>

 

 

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Festival in Sardinia

I presented my novel Hydromania in the Leggendro Metropolitano Festival in Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy.

Details and program (Italian) >>>

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Conversation with Australian writer Nam Le in Jerusalem

Good conversation with Australian author Nam Le in the 4th International Writers Festival in Jerusalem today, about his book, The Boat, the expectations from writers and how to defy them, moving and writing around the world, etc.

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Article about Croc Attack in Greek newspaper

An article about Croc Attack in big Greek newspaper ELEFTHEROTYPIA, including text by the successful Greek writer Isidoros Zourgos.

 

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Article on Narrative4 in Haaretz English

“The acclaimed Israeli author found himself paired with U.S. author Terry Tempest Williams for a story exchange. Someone tells you a personal tale; you tell one in return; then you retell each other’s stories to the group, Gavron explains.”

The story of Narrative4 and my involvement in it is poublished by Alona Farber in Haaretz English edition.

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Interview in Greek newspaper

New interview in Greek newspaper diastixo.gr, for the Greek edition of Croc Attack.

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Photo exhibition in New York

This photo of me is part of an authors portraits exhibition starting in New York next week, The Last Line, with photos by German photographer Heike Steinweg. Each author represented also contributed a short text relating to the concept of “the last line”.

More details on exhibition >>>

 

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Bernstein Prize jury arguments for awarding The Hilltop

This is the text from the jury of the Bernstein Prize 2013, explaining why they have awarded the prize to The Hilltop:

Assaf Gavron has written one of the most important and interesting books of recent years. The Hilltop is Gavron’s fifth novel and his most major. In his unique way, Gavron has placed himself in the heart of the canonic Hebrew literature by creating a wide-ranging novel, which seeks to confront the fundamental questions of the State of Israel. His work deals in a deeply literary manner with the human face of these questions. In other words, this is a novel of great ideas. He uses a contemporary form – ironic, segmented, clip-like, seemingly “flat” and postmodern – to play the traditional role of the Israeli observer. But make no mistake: the current form of this traditional approach is a bold literary move. It allows literature to tell “our” story and in doing so lets us understand it, contemplate it, and even question it.

The “situation”, the one in which we are living, and about which we complain, is in a way the protagonist of the novel, and this situation is conveyed through the story of two orphan brothers who find themselves in an illegal settlement on a hilltop in the West Bank, Maale Chermesh C. The plot itself is meticulously constructed and is the fruit of the author’s exceptional control of the art of storytelling. The prologue (The Fields) is truly a tour-de-force of plot structuring. The story gets under the skins of the many varied characters, and manages to explain them to us, thereby explaining something in ourselves. At the same time he has created an impressively tight plot, which has various genre sources, and together they construct a tight framework that reveals several worlds, without losing the narrative core. Gavron’s technical skill is clear, and it serves a more interesting and varied storytelling perception than it seems at first glance, or when reading only parts of the book.

The novel therefore cannot be dismantled into parts, and this in itself is a kind of statement that also relates to the question of language. The novel’s language is complex, self-conscious and quite ironic. It is somewhat similar to the way that the hilltop and its residents are ultimately depicted from the outside. Gavron’s language forcibly refuses to be tempted by the poetry of the Hebrew language with its link to the Bible. Possibly this is a political observation. Hebrew, when you strip it from Messianism—t hat is from religious yearning—is quite a flat language. The use Gavron makes of this Hebrew, especially in the first part, could suggest that the author does not write “prettily”, but the later parts of the book and the ironic use of rich and virtuosic language clarify that we are dealing with what is left of the language. Not incidentally the Hebrew sounds at times almost like English, in the rhythm and succinctness of the sentences. If there is something sad in the linguistic plot, then this is one of the deepest and most interesting points of the book; it relates to the true relations between Hebrew and Israeliness, and its religious-messianic core.

The Hilltop examines reality with literary tools, and the story-centered thinking explains the historical reality. The mechanism that Gavron discovers and describes is fascinating. The irony is central and touches all the characters and all the aspects of the story – those on the hilltop, those protesting against it, those who live at its foot and those who ignore its existence. The various aspects of the story are not at all those we know from day-to-day politics. They deal with the fundamental questions of living in such a place, with its complicated and nuanced relations with the Arab inhabitants, and with its link to the Jewish people and their important community in America. For this reason America has such a major role in the novel. Both brothers spend long defining periods there, one of them even takes part in the financial collapse—and in fact runs away to the hilltop where his born-again religious brother lives. The support of American Jews for the settlement and their one-dimensional perception of its reality, are part of the narrative. There is something Tolstoyan in this interpretation, in the way it puts “the situation” at the center. For its part, “the situation” imbues the characters’ human weaknesses with historical dimensions, as if the brothers Kupper-Nehushtan were aristocrats in the time of the Graff.

To sum up, The Hilltop is a bold and capable attempt to confront the tradition of the novel. Gavron succeeds exceptionally well by writing a novel, which is a contemporary and profound development of the form, and not only in terms of Hebrew literature. In judging the book on these terms, we find a tremendous struggle with the pioneer-period novels and with the cultural and literary tradition that places the kibbutz and the settlement at the center. The connection between the historic ideals of the Labor party and the settlement enterprise, and the understanding of the links between motivation, action and form, are ultimately an artistic and cultural achievement, because the novel is not simplistic and does not lead to simplistic conclusions. True, this is an observation of the hilltop from the plain, meaning from Tel Aviv, but Tel Aviv is also reflected in the hilltop, and neither would find in the novel what it might think to find in itself.

For these reasons we have decided to award Assaf Gavron with the Bernstein Prize.

Prof. Niza Ben-Dov

Prof. Hillel Weiss

Dr. Uri Cohen

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Reading in Berlin Literaturhaus

Reading and discussing The Hilltop in the literaturhaus tonight, aspart of the German-Israeli literatue days 2014 in Berlin. With German author Martin Schauble, moderated by Arne Schneider.

Comment and photo by German author Norbert Kron:

ssaf Gavron bei den “Deutsch-Israelischen Literaturtagen” von Böll-Stiftung & Goethe-Institut: äußerst intensiver Abend mit ihm und Martin Schäuble im Literaturhaus in der Fasanenstraße, super moderiert von Arne Schneider. Wie sehr sich die religiösen Hardliner auf beiden Seiten des Nahostkonflikts ähneln, kam beim Dialog der vorgestellten Büchern brillant heraus…

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Interview about cultural boycott on German radio

Short piece on the cultural boycott of Israel by German radio journalist Ruth Kinet.

Listen (German) >>>

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Reading in Stuttgart

Reading and discussion on The Hilltop in the beautiful new library in Stuttgart tonight.

Moderator: Anat Feinberg, professor of Hebrew fiction at Heidelberg University.

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Story of a foreskin – opinion piece on circumcision for Berliner Zeitung

An opinion piece on circumcision for German newspaper, Berliner Zeitung.

Written in preview to my appearance in the German-Israeli Literature Days in Berlin Literaturhaus on April 10th. The theme of the festival is religion and belief.

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Review of Croc Attack in People Magazine, Greece

Croc Attack got 4 stars in this review in the Greek edition of People Magazine, written by Tina Mandilara.

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On The Hilltop in Yediot Achronot

Critic Arik Glasner, in his article about a new phenomenon he identifies of “cosmopolitan Hebrew fiction, discusses The Hilltop. Published in Yediot Achronot:

“To the phenomenon of cosmopolitan Hebrew literature I would like to add another significant novel related to it, even if in a subterranean way: Assaf Gavron’s The Hilltop, one of the most important Israeli novels of recent years. On the face of it, eyebrows may be raised: what does this Kishon-like novel, dealing with an illegal settlement in the West Bank, with all this so-local mayhem of settlers, the military, politics, lefties, and Palestinians – have to do with anything cosmopolitan?

And yet, the deep structure of this novel is in my eyes entirely American. Gavron has taken the theme of “The Frontier”, a central theme in American culture, and adapted it to the Israeli reality. The Frontier thesis, which was first formulated into the canon by American historian Frederick Jackson Turner in 1893, emphasizes the significance of the frontier, which is moving slowly westward, to the American existence. America, claims this thesis, is conducting a complex relationship of attraction to the violent, uncultured, anarchic frontier and what lies beyond it, “the wild west”.

Gavron is one of the most American of our authors – the translator of Philip Roth and David Foster Wallace, for example – and when reading The Hilltop, it is clear that what attracted him to this subject is exactly this anarchic frontier way of life of an illegal settlement on the edge of the Judean desert. The same wild experience is what attracts the settlers themselves to the hilltop, as well as born-again Jews who are fed up with what they see as the too-bourgeois and too-organized Israel.  Moreover the cosmopolitan author Gavron sympathizes with this view. Thus an Israeli novel, which is actually an American-Israeli novel, is written, and it belongs, even if in a less obvious way, to this new trend of “Cosmopolitan Hebrew Literature”.”

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Hydromania shortlisted for prize in Italy

Hydromania is shortlisted for the ADEI WIZO prize, in the “Young Readers” category.

It is competing against an Aharon Apelfeld novel.

The winner will be chosen by teenagers from 15 high schools around Italy in May.

Story on ADEI WIZO website (Italian) >>>

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The Mouth and Foot mentioned in The Wire Magazine, UK

The Mouth and foot are mentioned in an article about the tel Aviv alternative music scene, as selected by musician Maya Dunitz:

Mouth And Foot are a cult group that play lo-fi experimental pop. They have released a record every six years since 1989, and live performances are rare. The trio comprises Ohad Fishof (now working as a choreographer and artist), guitarist Ram Orion and novelist Assaf Gavron. It’s essentially a concept group, using mainly 80s Casio keyboards, and it keeps on being surprisingly fresh. Their last record was released by the talented Uganda organisation, Itamar Weiner and Uri Crystal, who run a famous record and comics store/cutting-edge venue, hosting local and international music. Uganda also recently started a vinyl label with very interesting releases.

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Copyright free image

This image can be used for free by anyone. Please credit Fana Feng.

Click on image for full resolution.

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Review of The Hilltop – German website

This is a review of The Hilltop In German website Intellectures.de. It written by Maria Hummitzsch, who also moderated my reading event in Leipzig in November 2013.

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Almost Dead out in Bulgarian

The Bulgarian translation of Almost Dead is out, published by Enthusiast this week.

Here’s the book page on Enthusiast’s website >>>

Buy it here >>>

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Interview in Times of Israel

Interview in the Times of Israel, on The Hilltop, translations and more. Written by Jessica Steinberg.

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Copyright-free photos by Howard Romero

New photos, taken January 2014 in the Vermont Studio Center.

The photos are free to use, but please credit the photographer: Howard Romero.

For full resolution, click on the photo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Review and interview of The Hilltop in Swiss newspaper Neue Zuercher Zeitung

Review and interview on The Hilltop by Marko Martin in the most important newspaper in Switzerland, Neue Zuercher Zeitung.

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Opinion piece on the Anelka Salute, in Corriere Della Sera

An opinion piece I wrote for the Corriere Della Sera daily newspaper in Italy, about footballer Nicolas Anelka’s racist salute in a football match in the English Premier League.

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Interview on Hydromania in Italian newspaper il Giornale

An interview on Hydromania by Boris Solazzo in Italian newspaper il Giornale.

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Interview and review of The Hilltop in n-tv, Germany

Interview and review of the hilltop, by Samira Lazarovic, for German n-tv website.

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Mouth & Foot Interview in Haaretz, for the release of new album, Under

Interview in Haaretz cultural section, Gallery, by Moshe Kutner.

Read the article (Hebrew) >>>

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Interview about The Hilltop in Deutsche Welle, Germany

Interview and article in the Deutsche Welle website, by Andrea Kasiske.

This is the text version of the TV story broadcast on 3SAT Kulturzeit last month.

Read the article (German) >>>

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Croc Attack in Holiday recommendation list by leading Greek newspaper

Croc Attack is in the list of 100 recommended readings for the holiday season by the leading Greek newspaper Tovima. The book is one of 8 books on the “political” section, alongside Mario Vargas Llosa and E.L. Doctorow.

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Interview about Croc Attack in Omogeneia, Greece

Interview in Greek newspaper.

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Interview about Croc Attack in LIFO Magazine, Greece

Interview about the Greek edition of Croc Attack in LIFO Magazine, Greece.

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Review of Croc Attack in Greek e-magazine

Here’s a review of Croc Attack in Greek e-magazine Diastixo.

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Selected by JO LEE Magazine, Canada, as one of 16 “World’s Top Authors”

Canadian magazine JO LEE selected 16 World’s Top Authors from countries around the world, and I am the Israeli selection.

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