Death of a Monk was published in 2004 by Xargol publisher (editor: Eli Hirsch). The book was translated from the Hebrew into five languages, English (by Evan Fallenberg), French ("La Mort du Moine" – by Emmanuel Moses), Dutch ("De Dood van een Monnik" by Shulamit Bamberger), Italian ("La Morte del Monaco" by Anna Linda and Sara Ferrari) and Greek (by Xrysoula Papadopoulou).
In 1840 Damascus, Aslan Farhi leads a miserable life. Despised by his wealthy father, bullied by his siblings, and humiliated by his mother, he forms a close friendship with another boy, only for him to mysteriously disappear when their relationship becomes public knowledge. Aslan is horrified when his father arranges for him to be married to the rabbi’s daughter, but the ordeal of the wedding is unexpectedly lightened by the presence of an exotic dancer, Umm-Jihan, with whom he becomes entranced.
But all is not as it seems and, confused and unhappy, Aslan embarks on an ill-advised relationship with an Italian monk, with disastrous consequences.
The Damascus of Death of A Monk is a rich and vibrant place; lively, sensual and at the same time teeming with fear and hostility. Through the dark alleyways and bustling marketplaces Hilu unfolds a story charged with emotional and sexual conflict. A powerful literary tour de force from a unique new voice; at times wickedly funny, at others painfully sad, but beautifully told throughout. A stunning debut.
"A harrowing tale of love, lust and betrayal" - Scotland on Sunday
"Gleefully bawdy" - The Tablet
"Hilu chooses a 19th-century narrative style - beautifully translated from the Hebrew by Evan Fallenberg - and writes with great panache" – Independent
"Exotic…a very bold journey" - Gay Times
"Death of A Monk is a fascinating composite of history and hysteria, of a confessional novel and an actual historical event. It is a highly ambitious, excellent debut" - Ha'aretz
"A complex and unusual plot, original language and a colourful portrait of an entire world removed from our own" - Y-net
"Psychological complexity and superior crafting of the main character ... an outstanding literary achievement" - Yediot Ahronot