Ask the Author: “City of a Thousand Gates” with Rebecca Sacks

Ask the Author:
City of a Thousand Gates with Rebecca Sacks

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Join us for your book club fantasy come true. Our Ask the Author event with Rebecca Sacks is a facilitated book club conversation WITH THE AUTHOR. This very special Drop-In Book Club will be led by our own Crescent Rainwater in conversation with you and Rebecca Sacks about her novel, City of a Thousand Gates. Space will be limited to allow for group participation.


Tuesday, March 2

10:30am – 12pm

The safety and comfort of your own home.

Bathrobes or sweats encouraged.



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.


Brave and bold, this gorgeously written novel introduces a large cast of characters from various backgrounds in a setting where violence is routine and where survival is defined by boundaries, walls, and checkpoints that force people to live and love within and across them.

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.


Crescent Rainwater has a PhD in English from UCLA, and she specializes in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century British literature, women’s writing, and Aestheticism and Decadence. Her passion is teaching literature, whether discussing forgotten Victorian and Modernist women writers, unpacking Aesthetic poetry, or exploring a Gothic novel. She completed a Master’s at University College Dublin in Ireland where she wrote her thesis on the feminist energies of Oscar Wilde’s oeuvre. Before that, she spent a semester at Oxford University, where she studied Victorian fiction.

She has a chapter in Lucas Malet, Dissident Pilgrim: Critical Essays published by Routledge, and an article forthcoming in Journal of Victorian Culture. She has received several awards and fellowships, including the Grace M. Hunt Research Award that enabled her to visit many special collection libraries in England where, among other things, she transcribed numerous unpublished letters of Dorothy Richardson.