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Tal Nitzan is an award-winning poet, novelist, leading translator of Hispanic prose and poetry, and a human rights activist. Born in Jaffa, she has lived and worked in Bogota, Buenos Aires, and New York City.
She has published seven collections of poetry, two novels, a collection of short stories, and six children’s books. She has also edited three poetry anthologies: two of Latin American poetry, and the third a collection of Hebrew protest poetry. Her poems have been widely translated; thirteen selections of her poetry have been published in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, German, Italian and Latvian.
Nitzan has received numerous accolades across the course of her career. For her writing, these include the Women Writers’ Prize, The Ministry of Culture’s Prize for Emerging Poets, and for a Debut Poetry Collection; the Artists and Writers’ Rights Society (ACUM) Prize for Poetry; the Publishers’ Association Poetry Award; and prizes for poetry from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Bar-Ilan University. For her translation work, she has been awarded, amongst other prizes, the Tchernichovsky Prize for Exemplary Translation. In 2004, she received an honorary medal from the President of Chile, for her translation of Pablo Neruda’s poetry.
Nitzan currently lives in Tel Aviv.
Title: The Last Passenger
Publisher: Am Oved
Translation rights: World
Audio visual rights: World
Translation: Partial English by Ilana Kurshan
Nina, 22, lives alone in Tel Aviv, staving off the self-destructive tendencies resulting from a childhood of emotional neglect. Named after Nina Simone, the child rebelled against the musical vocation imposed on her; maternal alienation was the price for her independence.
Nina has overcome years of drug abuse, but is still fragile. Her work as a courier for a real estate company has drawn her into uncertain—but certainly illegal—territory, smuggling undeclared cash to Eastern Europe.
One day, returning from one of these trips, a girl her age, of Ethiopian origin, approaches her, approaches her at the airport. Could she use Nina’s phone to make a call? she asks. Nina agrees; and from that moment on, she is drawn into a dangerous intrigue. The Ethiopian girl is fleeing woman traffickers; Nina must now confront an evil more visceral than anything she has encountered ever before.
A bestseller since its publication in 2020, The Last Passenger blends the coming-of-age and thriller genres to excellent effect, a fast-paced narrative underpinned by vivid themes of female power and solidarity. The story unfolds in and around south Tel Aviv, the city’s neglected backyard, with the juxtaposition of Desolate asylum seekers and rapacious real estate lust shaping a tense yet intriguing setting. In Nina, Nitzan has captured a complex and captivating character: vulnerable yet resilient, hurting but still courageous, suspicious but with unexpected reserves of generosity. Alongside her, the book presents a virtuoso cast of supporting characters—a victim of woman traffickers, an opinionated Holocaust survivor, a real estate mogul with environmental concernment and dubious intentions. Nina is a true contemporary hero, a presence who will remain with the reader long after they have turned the last page.
A beautiful novel with a genuine Israeli hero.
A brilliant Israeli thriller…impossible to put down…aesthetically powerful, almost cinematic, eschews the need for mountains of detail in order to immerse the reader in [Nina’s] experience.
Tal Nitzan vividly depicts a parallel universe hidden right beneath our noses…a delightful novel. Well-written, laced with suspense.
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