The Wolf Hunt

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Pub Date 31 Aug 2023 | Archive Date 25 Oct 2023

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Award-winning author Ayelet Gundar-Goshen returns with a powerfully compelling novel about a mother who begins to suspect her teenage son of committing a terrible crime

Lilach seems to have it all: a beautiful home in the heart of Silicon Valley, a community of other Israeli immigrants, a happy marriage and a close relationship with her teenage son, Adam. But when a local synagogue is brutally attacked, her shy, reclusive son is compelled to join a self-defense class taught by a former Israeli Special Forces officer. Then a Black teenager dies at a house party, and rumours begin to circulate that Adam and his new friends might have been involved.

As scrutiny begins to invade Lilach's peaceful home, and her family's stability is threatened, will her own fears be the greatest danger of all?

Award-winning author Ayelet Gundar-Goshen returns with a powerfully compelling novel about a mother who begins to suspect her teenage son of committing a terrible crime

Lilach seems to have it all: a...

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ISBN 9781782279884
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Featured Reviews

How can a baby grow into a killer? People say that her son killed someone, but she knows that he didn't. What a way to open a book. THE WOLF HUNT is a masterclass in how to tell a story, its eloquence and cohesiveness made all the more impressive by the fact that it is a translation. The hook that was revealed in the blurb is repeated in the opening sentences, and, without resorting to narrative clichés, the book goes on to simultaneously reveal and obscure the mystery at its heart. The reader shares in all of Lilach's suspicions, worries, and potential paranoia, as she first fears for what might happen to her son, in the aftermath of an attack on a local synagogue, and then, in the aftermath of the death of one of her son's classmate at a house party, for what her son might be capable of.

I was hooked from the very start of THE WOLF HUNT and as I was reading it, I was constantly torn between wanting to savour the way it is written, and wanting to tear through the pages to find out what happens next. This is not the story of a boy who killed his classmate; it is the story of immigration, wealth inequality, racism, and trying to fit in, of cultural clashes, growing older, trying to balance a work life and a home life, and never really being able to know another person. There is so much depth to this book, the mystery at its heart deepening the more you read, but it never feels like too much, or not enough.

I really enjoyed what is essentially a page-turning story, but I am also still marvelling at all that this brilliantly-written (and -translated) book has to say. It is one of those books that you consider rereading the moment you finish reading it.

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I enjoyed the author's first novel, Waking Lions, and loved this one even more! I tore through this fast-paced story in a couple of sittings because I couldn't wait to find out what happened next. It's more than a thriller, it's a peek into the rise of anti-Semitism and racism in America, the immigrant experience, the relationship between a mother and son, and the secrets we keep from those we love the most.

Lilach, an Israel woman, lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mikhael and teenage son Adam. When a Black boy mysteriously dies at a house party that Adam attended, Lilach wonders if her nerdy, reclusive son is capable of murder.

This reminded me of two other books I really enjoyed: Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult and Defending Jacob by William Landay. Highly recommend!

Big thanks to NetGalley and Pushkin Press for the opportunity to read this one early!

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I loved this. And I'm particularly impressed by Sondra Silverston's translation, which hits absolutely the right narrative note for this type of novel (which one could broadly describe as US-mother-angst). I also loved the way that it doesn't tie up the whole story - there are ambiguities, things left unsaid and unanswered. Lovely novel.

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I could not put this book down.This is a dark haunting novel A very timely novel seen through the eyes of a mother as her son is caught up in the murder of a classmate .The location of Silicon Valley of an Israeli family who moved to the for the husbands career.The story of adjusting to a foreign country of acts of antisemitism.So well written so emotional, excellent translation I will be reading more by this author.#netgalley #pushkin

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Israeli author Ayelet Gundar-Goshen’s latest novel The Wolf Hunt (translated by Sondra Silverston) was first published in Hebrew with the name Relocation. And while the new title has some resonance with the plot, the original name cuts deeper to the concerns that Gundar-Goshen is trying to explore. That is, the split of lives of expatriate Israelis who have relocated to America. Along the way she deals with many more issues including the fraught relationship between parents and teenagers, bullying, anti-semitism and racism.
The Wolf Hunt opens with a killer short chapter in which the narrator, an Israeli woman called Lilach but who everyone calls Leela, tells readers that her son has been accused of killing another boy but that she knows that this isn’t true. But actually, as the story evolves through the lead up to the death of Jamal Jones and the aftermath, neither the reader not Lilach is quite as sure. Before she gets to that death, though, Lilach describes another – the killing of a young woman by a knife wielding man in a synagogue that puts the whole of the Jewish community of Silicon Valley (where the family has relocated for her husband’s work) on alert. So much so that her son Adam, along with a group of teenage boys fall under the spell of a man called Uri who offers them intense self defence training and the mantra that if someone rises up to kill them then they should strike first. So that when Jamal is found dead at a party, eventually suspicion falls on Adam, and Uri, also an Israeli, is there to offer the family support.
The Wolf Hunt is tense from the first page and Gundar-Goshen succeeds in constantly tightening the screws on Lilach and her family. Uri, in particular is a mercurial character and Lilach is never sure whether to trust him or not sometimes being suspicious of his motives but sometimes being grateful that he is there to help and guide them, that there is at least one adult who can communicate with her son. Along the way, she surfaces a number of issues without necessarily resolving anything, just highlighting the fact that they are complicated. This includes anti-semitism, the additional tension created by the displacement of Black communities in certain parts of America (in this case Palo Alto), the factors that have pushed Israelis to leave their home country which also put pressure on them to succeed in America.
By sitting behind Lilach’s point of view, the reader cannot help but be swept into her fears and concerns – is her son a murderer? is Uri trying to undermine or support her relationship with him? is her husband having an affair? what is she supposed to do with her life in America with her husband as the sole breadwinner? The makes The Wolf Hunt an often uncomfortable but ultimately rewarding book to read. Not all of Lilach’s questions are answered, while some elements are resolved there is still plenty of grey left at the end. But in this way The Wolf Hunt is as messy and as unsatisfying as life can be and that is another one of its many strengths.

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The Wolf Hunt revolves around an Israeli couple, Lilach and Mikhael, who moved to America with the hope of providing a safer life for their son Adam. They lead a seemingly normal life until one day they see news reports of a senseless terrorist attack at a local synagogue. They want to show their support but all this does is highlight the fear that they have for their son and insist that he takes part in self defence classes led by a former Israeli Special Forces officer. The relationships Adam forms through this group and the mindset he develops are a big worry for Lilach, and it looks like her fears may actually be realised when a young boy called Jamal is killed at a house party, with suspicions landing on Adam and his friends.

"I look at the tiny fingers of a newborn baby and try to understand how they could possibly grow into the fingers of a killer."

This first line of this book was so chilling and set the tone for the rest of the story. As a mother, I can't even begin to imagine the impossible and gut-wrenching situation Lilach was facing in this story. As you can probably tell, it was one of those stories that was really very difficult to read while at the same time impossible to put down.

The quality of the writing and translation was just brilliant in creating an incredibly raw, no holds barred account of what this family had to endure. There were so many layers to the story, it covered so many topical issues and as a result went far beyond my original expectations of what to expect.

The Wolf Hunt is listed as literary fiction but in my opinion as a crime fiction blogger, this story also had many elements of a psychological thriller - it was tense and disturbing as well as being emotional, thought-provoking and full of suspense. Lullaby by Leïla Slimani is one of my all-time favourite books and I have to say that The Wolf Hunt is right up there with it. I can see why there were comparisons, even though it was a completely different setting, it had the same feeling about it - something that just niggles at you the whole way through making you feel uneasy as you read.

An unforgettable, solid and disturbing read, I would highly recommend The Wolf Hunt for anyone looking to read a story that really explores the mindset of the characters, looking at the psychological impact that traumatic events can have on a family, as well as the political element of radicalisation and cultural differences.

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The Wolf Hunt focuses on an Israeli couple, Lilach and Mikhael, and their teenage son, Adam, who live in Silicon Valley at the time of an antisemitic attack on their local synagogue. When one of Adam's classmates dies at a party he falls under suspicion, but Lilach knows her son and he just couldn't have done it. Or could he? What does a former Israeli Special Forces officer, whose self defence classes Adam joins, have to do with the mystery? Lilach becomes paranoid as she struggles with the gossip and antisemitic threats against her family.

This is a remarkable read: a mystery about a young black boy's death, family connections and cultural clashes in the maelstrom of modern day America. The characters are all well drawn and believable and the novel is extremely well written and translated. Highly recommended reading. Thanks to NetGalley and Pushkin Press for the opportunity to read and review this excellent book.

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I found this short novel incredible. It's probably technically a thriller but reads like a psychological novel, and there was so much tension, slowly building up, that I just wanted to keep reading.

Lilach is a mother to Adam, a teenager - her and her husband moved to California from Israel and have settled well, her husband working for a big tech company. Then one day, an attack on a synagogue shocks the neighbourhood. Soon after, an African American teenager, Jamal, dies at a house party. When Lilach finds out that her son Adam - who has recently started to be really into a self-defence class taught by the mysterious Uri, after the synagogue attack, was bullied by Jamal, she starts suspecting her son of murdering Jamal. Her husband thinks she is crazy. Uri gets closer and closer to the family, and antisemitic graffiti start to appear at school accusing Adam of murder.

I loved reading about Lilach's questions about her son, her memories of Israel, her discomfort about what she suspects might have happened, while Uri - handsome, clever, strong, maybe an ex-Mossad agent - lurks and immerses himself into their family life. It was well-written and felt real and interesting, and I felt stressed reading it. The ending was a real surprise but did not disappoint (although be prepared for not everything to be resolved).

It was well-written and honestly a really good story. It reminded me - although it was in many ways completely different - of The Heatwave, a French novel by Victor Jestin: completely different context but the same tension, the same anxiety, the same teenage boredom and mystery.

I really recommend this one - short but impactful.

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I was gripped from the very first page and the author lays out the premise for the whole book in her opening words. She is a marvellous storyteller and pulls the reader straight into the heart of the book.

As a mother I could identify with the main character, Lilach. Her fears, concerns and worries were tangible and I think all readers, not just parents, will be able to empathise with her feelings. She is an excellently well portrayed character. It is clear that the author completely understands her character and fully inhabits her. The role of her husband and son are equally fully realised characters and she brings them fully to life.

The story is full of suspense, and it made this book a real page turner for me. It is also heart felt and compassionate, dealing with some difficult issues by considering the grey areas inbetween the black and white simplicity of a situation.

This is accomplished storytelling at its very best, and this was one of those rare books which I did not want to end. I highly recommend it.

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The Wolf Hunt by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen begins with a shooting in a synagogue that has the Jewish Community at the centre of Silicon Valley feeling under threat. When a young Black man is later killed at a party Israeli immigrant Lilach fears that her son Adam might be responsible. Previously shy and introverted Adam hero-worships his enigmatic and charismatic self-defence teacher, a former Israeli Special Forces soldier whose methods and teachings appear to go above and beyond defence. With Adam denying that he even knew the dead boy and his mentor befriending the whole family Lilach is determined to find out if her son is a killer or not.

This is a multi-faceted and intelligent book that addresses a number of issues in the telling, racism,acceptance,displacement and much else. Much is ambiguous, which made the book for me. There is no neat ending and it leaves the reader with plenty to think about, it's an ideal read for a book group with so many events that can be interpreted in different ways that people will form their own opinions on.
An exceptional book,a thought-provoking and engrossing read.

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This was my first time reading a book by this author and I'm impressed.
I've loved it!
The whole mystery concerning the death of the Black kid and all the suspicious being driven to the Jew teenager got me hooked. I've loved all the characters, all the political, social and religious conversations and the endless trust and biased love from a mother who refuses to believe their son could be a murderer.
I thought this story was fast-paced and very intriguing.

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Ayelet Gundar-Goshen’s first novel to be set outside Israel is the story of a Jewish immigrant family to Silicon Valley, where they seem to be living the American Dream. The mother, Lilach, felt that such a move would remove her son from the dangers and tensions within Israel to a place of safety. But it soon becomes clear that there never is a place of safety, and that sometimes the danger comes from within. Lilach think she’s escaping conflict but the novel opens with a terrorist attack on a synagogue – this really happened – and it affects the family profoundly. Moral complexity is at issue throughout the novel. The militaristic culture of modern Israel that Lilach has always opposed begins perhaps to seem the best way forward. She doesn’t want her son to be a victim – but is she prepared for him to be a perpetrator? I found the book a truly compelling read, nuanced, thoughtful and intelligent. There are no easy answers and the author doesn’t try to supply any. It’s also a novel about anti-Semitism, racial tension, prejudice and above all fear. Fear that inevitably leads to aggression. The most memorable line from the novel was for me when Lilach realises that while she always asks whether anyone has been violent towards her son at school it never occurs to her ask whether he had been violent to anyone. Who is the wolf and who is the lamb? A wonderful read.

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What a stunning cover for a book! But we shouldn’t judge by such things, so….

Here we have a family of three living in California’s Silicon Valley. Originally from Israel, Leela, Michael and Adam (the parents’ names have been anglicised to help them fit in to western life) are living a middle-class existence. Then, Adam gets accused of poisoning a school bully, Jamal Jones, and what follows is a story about how such things are dealt with in the family, as well as in the community.

Leela narrates the story. She’s someone who gives back but will not believe that Adam has poisoned Jamal with meths. Who to believe? What about new man on the scene, Uri, who Adam seems to idolise? What’s his role in what has happened?

There are many tragic events in the story, not least what happens to Adam’s beloved pet rescue dog. At times, the jumping time periods seems a bit forced, such as the escape to Mexico and then suddenly they’re home. Apart from this, ‘The Wolf Hunt’ is a tale about modern-day life, and how people can jump on accusation bandwagons to avoid knowing the truth.

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