“This is the most evenhanded view that I have seen of a polarizing conflict since it portrays the humanity of the competitors for some of the most sought after real estate in the world. It reveals the character, values, flaws, and heroism of ordinary yet often noble citizens in their struggle to exist in a capricious environment where bad things often happen to good people who dare to hope for peace and dignity in harsh and combative circumstances. The complexities, idealism, and passion of the story’s characters are revealed in a fascinating and suspenseful tapestry viewed through the eyes of women rather than politicians or warriors whose views more often get published.” — Gary G.
“Readers not previously acquainted with this apparently unsolvable conflict will gain an understanding of the mortal dangers faced by the Israeli population on a daily basis from terror attacks, while at the same time Casper has shown an evenhanded understanding of the Palestinian point of view.” — Frieda K.
“This is a gorgeously written, compelling story of family, loyalty, love and pain set against the baffling and tragic Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Casper’s eloquence is addicting; her novel should be read by anyone who appreciates great literature and sensitive, insightful storytelling.” — Nan Hoffman
“Israela… is a mesmerizing read that gives audiences a glimpse into the complexities of life in Israel. Using an intriguing three-person narrative format that revolves around the central characters, the author allows the reader to step into each character’s predicament, thereby fully grasping the emotion and conflict surging within. More importantly, Batya Casper’s well-researched and thorough revelations about Israel portray the constant turmoil that its residents, both Arab and Jew, face on a daily basis. Beyond race and ethnicity, Israela is Israel’s story–the story of humanity.” —Mihir Shah
“Dr. Casper has written a unique, epic work, spanning many generations and world events. She has somehow managed to compress historical and political issues that could span volumes into one very readable novel. Dr. Casper’s approach to her narrative is daring and engaging. She writes from the perspectives of three very different women, as well as from the personification of Israel herself. Somehow, these narratives coalesce into a most readable whole that is thought-provoking and memorable. Her language is poetic, descriptive and evocative of time and place. Dr. Casper offers no easy answers or solutions, but the basis for intelligent, informed dialogue. Her love for Israel and its peoples is apparent. So is her feeling of sadness at the distance and hostility between nations whose histories and destinies are destined to be linked. At its core, this is a book about both family alienation and the transformative power of love.” —Paula Van Gelder
“Batya Casper’s novella Hidden proves that great things do indeed come in small packages. The story kicks right off with a haunting mystery and traverses backward in time to explore several generations of a Jewish family plagued by tragedy and war. Casper’s prose is tight and well-knit, allowing the story to unfold organically without exposition or wasted breath. Hidden is a fantastic read.” — Anthony Rando
“Batya Casper has a magical voice. She writes eloquently about war, death, sorrow, joy, hope, and love. Her knowledge of the subject is evident. The reader is transported to 1930 Israel, 1940 England, and introduced to children and the world through their eyes. Hidden is made up of two books. The first one takes place in Israel and tells the story of a family who wraps their past in mystery and keeps it hidden from the young granddaughter who lives with them. In backstory the reader is led through the beauty of Israel, the lure of the ocean, the thrill and innocence of young love, the despair of loss, the cost of war. It is a love story that bridges generations.” — Regge Episale
“Though separated by time, the Novellas in Batya Casper’s “Hidden” are conceptually interlinked by war, human struggle, prejudice, and despair. Common threads: sights, sounds, odors, and feelings transported me to those times and places. Once there, I felt the pain and despair of the characters. Beautifully written!” — Verla R. Powers.
Fascinating Author Interview of Israela
Q. What excites you most about Israela’s topic? Why did you choose it?
A. I love the secrets that the characters keep from each other. I love how one character knows the other is keeping a secret from him, and still keeps his from her. I love the way all the characters keep secrets, holding their truth from others. I didn’t choose that. It developed on its own.
Q. How long did Israela take you from start to finish?
A. I spent a couple of years thinking about it first. After that initial period, the writing took about three years.
Q. What aspect of writing the book did you find particularly challenging?
A. The book developed quite organically; the challenge for me coming later in the writing process when I tried to juxtapose the flow of the theme with the plot. (Yes. They are different.)
Q. What surprised you the most about the book writing process?
A. I didn’t set out to write a novel. My original intention was to trace the modern history of Israel, to see how Israel had reached its present situation; yet, fictional characters kept popping into my head together with twists and turns of plot. That surprised me immensely. Finally, I gave in and enjoyed myself. Today, I believe that the finished version of Israela provides a much clearer portrait of Israel and its people than any historical treatise I could have provided.
Q. Did you have any favorite experiences when writing your book?
A. Yes. Originally, Israela had a different title. I wasn’t that keen on it. I had all but finished the novel, when I woke one morning with the name “Israela” in my head. I knew immediately that was my title, yet the moment I had that name, I needed to sit and write in Israela’s unique voice. I am convinced Israela wrote her own script.
Q. What do you hope your readers will gain from reading Israela?
A. I hope they will gain a sense of Israel from the inside, as a living entity with people of passion who feel love, hope, anguish, despair, and betrayal. I want my readers to sit on Arab balconies and hear the conversation; to sit in Jewish back yards and hear the conversation; to go to the souk (outdoor market) and hear the dialogue—or worse, the lack of dialogue, so that, by the time my readers reach the end of Israela they will no longer be dependent on the international media to tell them what to think because they will be asking their own questions. How can these people live for so long with war?
Q. What projects are you currently working on?
A. I’m at the tentative, beginning stages of my next novel.
Q. Is writing your sole career? If not, what else do you do?
A. By education, I am a theater director and teacher. Theater was always my first great love.
Q. Did you do any research for your books, or did you write from experience?
A. I did a great deal of research into dates and facts of wars, news bulletins, etc., but the stories in Israela were written from experience, memory and dream.
Q. How did you come up with your title?
A. My book is about Israel, but it is mainly about three Israeli women, their lives and their loved ones. Once the name, Israela, popped into my head, it seemed a natural choice. She developed into her own character, perhaps even the central character of the book.
Q. What books have influenced you the most?
A. I grew up reading Russian novels. Of all the novels I have ever read, I think Crime and Punishment, War and Peace, and The Brothers Karamazoff made the strongest impressions on me. I spent my adolescent years reading books about World War II and the Holocaust. I couldn’t get enough of them, at once repelled and fascinated by them. Among contemporary novels, I love the works of Amy Tan, Meir Shalev, and Barbara Kingsolver. My favorite contemporary novels are The Kite Runner, Reading Lolita in Teheran, and The History of Love.
Q. Who was your publisher and why did you choose them?
A. Tate Publishing, a Christian publishing house. A friend suggested I contact them, that they would appreciate my subject matter. I think he was right. They’ve been wonderful to work with.