"A dazzling mosaic of hilarity and heartbreak that boldly goes against the grain of the usual subjects of much of Israeli fiction."—The Jewish Book Council
"[A] decisive literary victory, a real celebration . . . the precise observations of Philip Roth, the grotesque wildness of Hanoch Levin, and the sharp melancholy of Ephraim Kishon. . . . A humorous novel that is motivated by empathy rather than sarcasm and manages to be both entertaining and deeply moving."—Ha’aretz
"Pinkus is an original talent, whose work is funny, compassionate and finely etched."—Jewish Week
"The first few episodes of Petty Business bring Honoré de Balzac’s César Birotteau to mind . . . but Pinkus chooses wisely not to show its protagonists in their fall. . . . [It] is not the grand novel about the end of Israeli petit bourgeoisie but a depiction of its last few moments of grace, and it is a wonderful depiction."—Motti Fogel, Achbar Ha’Ir
"A very funny yet tragic book, a unique work in the history of Israeli literature and one of only a handful of
works that relates to the great humoristic tradition of Eastern European Jewish literature in Hebrew and Yiddish. Highly recommended."—Yaron Peleg, University of Cambridge
"A refreshing, realistic portrayal of the city of Tel Aviv and a rare depiction of middle-aged, petty bourgeois characters who don’t usually find their way into Israeli fiction."—Philip Hollander, University of Wisconsin–Madison
"Petty Business is a delight you rarely come across: a hilarious, engaging, tender comedy about the phenomenon known as family. From page one you give in to Pinkus’s confident and unconstrained loving celebration of humanity, which is as true to 1980s north Tel Aviv as it would be to anytime and anywhere you'd find families, and livelihood."—Assaf Gavron, author of The Hilltop
"Satirically portrays the life of a family of Tel Aviv store owners with both fondness and humor over one year. . . . Pinkus’ mastery of language is every bit equal to that of his visual medium, and translators Evan Fallenberg and Yardena Greenspan do a fine job of conveying his varied prose into English."—New York Journal of Books
As they do every year, Yosef Zinman, a well-to-do Tel Aviv grocer, and his beloved wife Zippi plan a vacation during the holiday of Sukkot to Seefeld in the mountainous Tirols region of Austria. This year, Zippi decides to invite her sister, who has fallen on hard times with a failing perfumery business. Soon, more and more relatives join in on the trip, and the expenses quickly begin to add up. To gather all the funds needed, the family goes into the business of inexpensive clothing and fashion shows for workers’ unions. The summer
promises handsome revenues, but as the Zinman family nears their goal, they become increasingly vexed by their competing interests.
A tragic-comic novel in its essence, Petty Business chronicles a year in one family’s life, set against the backdrop of Tel Aviv’s rapidly changing global economy in the early 1990s. Pinkus’s biting critique of Tel Aviv’s provincial character and its residents’ shtetl mentality is delivered with a perfect combination of wit, humor, and tender pathos.
Yirmi Pinkus is an Israeli writer and illustrator living in Tel Aviv. From 1996 to 2011 he was a member of the Actus independent comics group. Petty Business was short-listed for the 2013 Sapir prize and awarded the 2014 Literary Prize by The Israel Institute.
Yardenne Greenspan holds an MFA in fiction and translation from Columbia University. In 2011 she received the American Literary Translators’ Association Fellowship, and in 2014 she was a resident writer and translator at Ledig House’s Writers Omi program. Her translation of Shemi Zarhin’s Some Day was chosen for World Literature Today’s 2013 list of notable translations.
Evan Fallenberg is the author of the novels Light Fell, When We Danced on Water, and The Parting Gift, and translator of Israeli novels, plays, and libretti. He has won or been shortlisted for the American Library Association Barbara Gittings Stonewall Book Award for Literature, the Edmund White Award, and the PEN Translation Prize, among others.