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Host Marcela Sulak reads an excerpt from Sarit Yishai-Levi’s best-selling novel The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem, recently published in Anthony Berris’s English translation. The novel spans four generations of Sefardic women whose family traces its history in Israel to the Spanish expulsion, and the story centers around the family’s stall in the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem.

“Gabriel returned to the shop. He despised the British more every day. He couldn’t stand their haughty presence as they walked through the market in groups in their pressed uniforms, as if they were the lords of the land. Some had come to Palestine from remote villages, simple country boys who’d shoveled cow shit in their English villages, and here in Palestine they behaved as if each of them was the son of the King of England.

Sarit Yishai-Levi, a journalist and author, was born in Jerusalem in 1947 to a Sephardic family that has lived in the city for seven generations. She has published four non-fiction books, the first of which is The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem, which received the Publishers Association’s Gold and Platinum Prizes (2014) and the Steimatzky Prize for best-selling book of the year (2014). It is now being made into a feature film.

The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem by Sarit Yishai-Levi. Translated by Anthony Berris. St. Martin’s Press, 2016.

Music (all mentioned in the novel)

Producer: Laragh Widdess
Technical producer: Alex Benish

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