Buy now:
Amazon | IndieBound

Ben Hecht: Fighting Words, Moving Pictures
Yale University Press, February, 2019

“A screenwriter hoping to serve up a punchy opening scene could hardly do better than the first paragraph of Adina Hoffman’s new biography of Ben Hecht … The opening credits have barely rolled (so to speak) and we already know that the book is a very unusual sort of Hollywood biography, one about a man who sought a role on the world stage that extended far beyond having written ‘Scarface.’ The story that Hoffman proceeds to tell–her account of what she vividly describes as Hecht’s ‘long, slaphappy career’–is little known today, a fact that would have surprised plenty of people when he died in 1964… Sorting through [his] contradictions is … the task she sets for herself… It’s a big job for such a slender book, but Hoffman … has the grip–the historical, cultural and human frame of reference–required to see Hecht whole.”
Jeremy McCarter, The Wall Street Journal

“Never less than hugely readable. You sense that Hecht—the scriptwriter who best defined the brawny, slangy Hollywood form of the 1930s—would have approved of Hoffman’s quick-heeled biography.”
–Danny Leigh, The Financial Times 

“Beautifully written … Hecht lived an exuberant, madcap, bad-boy life, which Hoffman details with a gimlet eye.”
–Liesl Olson, The Los Angeles Review of Books

“Thoroughly absorbing, compulsively readable, Adina Hoffman’s book gives a critical but sympathetic account of the pugnacious, brilliant, and breathtakingly prolific Ben Hecht. Sadly and unjustly, Hecht has been almost forgotten in the half century since his death. Hoffman shows, with great care and dedication—not to mention ample gifts as  a storyteller and a writer—just how important Hecht was in his day, and why he matters now.”

–Noah Isenberg, author of We’ll Always Have Casablanca: The Life, Legend, and Afterlife of Hollywood’s Most Beloved Movie

“Ben Hecht and the American movie business grew up together, trading punches. Adina Hoffman captures this often destructive force of nature in all his cynicism and fervor, and is especially incisive dealing with his long struggle to find a Jewish identity that could fit his cantankerous personality. This book makes you wish you’d known the guy, if only to watch the sparks he threw off.”
John Sayles


Buy now:
Amazon | IndieBound

Till We Have Built Jerusalem: Architects of a New City
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, April 2016

“Adina Hoffman is that very rare writer who moves lightly across vast realms of knowledge, transmuting the most intransigent material into illuminating and affecting narratives. Here is a book about the making of a city that is as emotionally potent as it is intellectually bracing.”
―Pankaj Mishra

“Part intellectual search, part urban history, Adina Hoffman’s engrossing narrative reveals the multi-layered polyglot melting pot that was Jerusalem. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.”
―Witold Rybczynski

“A beautifully written and captivating history  . . . Till We Have Built Jerusalem is a passionate, lyrical defense of a Jerusalem that could still be, and a prophecy of the grim future that awaits the city if it continues on its current path.”

“Sifting through official documents and private letters, Ms. Hoffman . . . resurrects these forgotten [architects] and succeeds in adding fascinating human detail to the cityscape . . . The stories in Ms. Hoffman’s account bring new pieces of Jerusalem to life.”
—The Wall Street Journal

“A superb and sharp-eyed account . . . [Till We Have Built Jerusalem is] a work of richly detailed cultural and social criticism by an author with a deep command of history . . . None of the many books  [I’ve read] about Jerusalem is quite as charming and engaging, nor as surprising and satisfying, as Hoffman’s marvelous examination of the Jerusalem streetscape.”
The Jewish Journal

“A remarkable and often beautifully written history of modern Jerusalem, as told from the point of view of its architecture.”
—Geoff Manaugh, BLDGBLOG

“In Till We Have Built Jerusalem, Adina Hoffman goes beyond writing history and biography to bring these
[architects], their dreams and their work vividly and poignantly to life . . . She digs deep, but also casts her net
outward to pull in dozens of fascinating supporting characters.”

“Beautifully written, thoroughly researched, deeply felt.”
Mitchell Abidor, Jewish Currents

Buy now:
Amazon | IndieBound

Sacred Trash: The Lost and Found World of the Cairo Geniza , with Peter Cole
Schocken / Nextbook, 2011

“It has taken over a century, and two non-academics, for us to have such a readable, at times gripping, account of one of the most important modern discoveries of written material from the Middle ages….[A] wonderful book.”
–David Wasserstein, The TLS

“A wonderfully passionate and lively account of a civilization we could not have imagined existed and of the men and women whose enthusiasm and dedication brought it to light.”
The Wall Street Journal

“Hoffman and Cole deliver a riveting true account… Invigorating.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A literary jewel whose pages turn like those of a well-paced thriller, but with all the chiseled elegance and flashes of linguistic surprise we associate with poetry…. SacredTrash has made history both beautiful and exciting”.
–David Nirenberg, The Nation

“Both lively and elevating … an extended act of celebration of Cairo’s historical Jewish community, their documents, and their documents’ 20th-century students …. Wonderfully revived by Hoffman and Cole.”
The New York Times Book Review

“Wonderfully accessible and exciting.”
The Boston Globe

“Beautifully written, learned and lucid, ‘Sacred Trash’ is a treasure that should not be hidden…. Exquisitely realized.”
The San Francisco Chronicle

“Absorbing … [Sacred Trash is] an accessible, neatly narrated story of hallowed detritus and the resurrection of nearly 1,000 years of culture and learning.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Charming and unobtrusively erudite … Hoffman and Cole have produced colorful portraits of the Geniza scholars, their intellectual passions, their scholarly agendas and controversies, and in some cases, their personal egos and jealousies…. Fascinating … a very human story.”
–Norman Stillman, Jewish Review of Books

“I can’t think of another work that succeeds so well in making archival research into gripping adventure.”
–Robyn Creswell, Paris Review blog

My Happiness Bears No Relation to Happiness  cover

Buy now:
Amazon | IndieBound

My Happiness Bears No Relation to Happiness
A Poet’s Life in the Palestinian Century

Yale University Press, April 2009

“Adina Hoffman’s portrait of Taha Muhammad Ali brings to life character after character, each one viewed with the author’s singular humanity. The poet himself is a figure of great originality and integrity, and his life becomes a mirror of a world which we have glimpsed, until now, largely in broken fragments. I hope this landmark book will be widely, and carefully, read.”
–W. S. Merwin, former US poet laureate

“Adina Hoffman’s writing is historical magic … A series of brilliantly told and searing stories, this is at once a page-turner and a book to be savored.”
–María Rosa Menocal, author of The Ornament of the World

“From Adina Hoffman’s extraordinary book, I have not only learned about the life of that wise, sweet, cunning, superbly gifted and totally original Palestinian poet Taha Muhammad Ali, but I have learned–more than ever before–about Jewish and Arab history in Palestine. The book is heartbreaking, riveting, and beautifully written. Moreover it’s one of a kind.”
–Gerald Stern, National Book Award-winner for This Time: New and Selected Poems

“Reading Adina Hoffman’s remarkable book we are consoled that, in the face of terrible brutalities and sufferings, the enduring power of poetry might restore in words–and celebrate–a measure of what has been lost in reality.”
–Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran

“A triumph of sympathetic imagination, dogged research and impassioned writing. More than the story of one man’s life [My Happiness] brings to light entire strata of historical and cultural experience that have been neglected or purposefully covered over. For readers of English there is no comparable work.”
–Robyn Creswell, The National

“Hoffman’s lively, insightful, artistically contextualized portrait of a great and accessible poet provides a corrective perspective on Palestinian culture and offers new evidence of literature’s transcendent power.”
Booklist, starred review

“[My Happiness Bears No Relation to Happiness] is not just a biography of a remarkable man, but a focused history of a region…. A lovingly researched, well-rendered portrait.”
Kirkus Reviews

“A rich tapestry of the personal, the literary and the political, skillfully woven by a sympathetic writer … Hoffman’s intense but often humorous book is a powerful reminder of the singularity and complexity of this most intractable of conflicts and of the ability of the human spirit to be creative in adversity.”
–Ian Black, The Guardian

“Vivid and intimate, engrossing and full of memorable characters. Every scene [Hoffman] sketches comes alive … Taha Muhammad Ali is fortunate to have had … [her to] tell his story with such eloquence.”

“This biography is a literary event in two senses: it introduces a new, world-class poet and is itself an unforgettable work of art.”
–Tom D’Evelyn, The Providence Journal

“Biographer, essayist, and literary critic Hoffman masterfully captures the life and work of this highly original poet. An exceptional introduction to a literary world that has, until now, been little known to English-language readers, this is highly recommended.”
–Ali Houissa, Library Journal

Read the full reviews in:

The New York Review of Books

The National

The Times Literary Supplement

The Guardian


Buy now

Buy now:
Amazon | IndieBound

House of Windows
Portraits from a Jerusalem Neighborhood

Steerforth Press, 2000
Broadway Books (paperback), 2002

“Steadily perceptive and brimming with informed passion, Hoffman’s account opens the shades on one of the most remarkable cities on earth.”
Kirkus Reviews

“This is a beautifully written, unassuming and ethical book.”
Literary Review

“Adina Hoffman’s House of Windows conjures up with wonderful immediacy the sensory details of the working-class Jerusalem neighborhood where she has lived for … years. Her clear-sighted account brings us face to face with her Arab and Jewish neighbors … who, in this politically charged sacred city somehow manage to lead lives of resilience and courage.”
O, The Oprah Magazine

“Here is the round of daily life presented in graceful and perceptive prose.”
The Times Literary Supplement

“[Adina Hoffman is] one of our favorite writers in Israel.”
The Forward