On Wednesday, February 9th at 4:00pm PST Warwick's will host Rebecca Sacks as she discusses her debut novel, City of a Thousand Gates, in conversation with Vu Tran. Rebecca Sacks is a graduate of the Programs in Writing at the University of California, Irvine. She is the recipient of a 2020 Elizabeth George Foundation award, a 2019 Canada Council for the Arts grant, and the Joseph F. McCrindle Foundation’s 2019 Henfield Prize in fiction writing. She has been awarded fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Juniper Summer Writing Institute, and the Mellon-Sawyer Documenting War Seminar Series. After graduating from Dartmouth College, she worked for several years at Vanity Fair before moving to Tel Aviv to pursue a Master of Arts in Jewish Studies. She has written dispatches from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem for publications including the Paris Review Daily. This is her first novel.
Hamid, a college student, has entered Israeli territory illegally for work. Rushing past soldiers, he bumps into Vera, a German journalist headed to Jerusalem to cover the story of Salem, a Palestinian boy beaten into a coma by a group of revenge-seeking Israeli teenagers. On her way to the hospital, Vera runs in front of a car that barely avoids hitting her. The driver is Ido, a new father traveling with his American wife and their baby. Ido is distracted by thoughts of a young Jewish girl murdered by a terrorist who infiltrated her settlement. Ori, a nineteen-year-old soldier from a nearby settlement, is guarding the checkpoint between Bethlehem and Jerusalem through which Samar - Hamid's professor - must pass.
These multiple strands open this magnificent and haunting novel of present-day Israel and Palestine, following each of these diverse characters as they try to protect what they love. Their interwoven stories reveal complicated, painful truths about life in this conflicted land steeped in hope, love, hatred, terror, and blood on both sides.
City of a Thousand Gates brilliantly evokes the universal drives that motivate these individuals to think and act as they do - desires for security, for freedom, for dignity, for the future of one's children, for land that each of us, no matter who or where we are, recognize and share.
Vu Tran was born in Saigon, Vietnam, and raised in Oklahoma. He is the winner of a Whiting Award, and his short stories have appeared in many publications, including The O. Henry Prize Stories and The Best American Mystery Stories. He teaches creative writing at the University of Chicago.