Gates of justice and exchange rates: speculative labor in the book of men

Tahel Frosh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Since the beginning of the twenty-first century in Israel–and with growing intensity since the outbreak of the 2011 social protests–a new neoliberal economical subject has appeared in Hebrew literature. In this new subjectivity, self-identity is formed and understood by its relations to work. In this article I will follow the new working subject as it is revealed in Nano Shabtai’s novel Book of Men and present an interpretive paradigm, grounded in the critique of neoliberalism. While much of the critique of Book of Men revolves around gender identity and power relations, I will offer a new interpretation. Shabtai’s protagonist reveals the mechanism underlying a subjectivity immersed in work and economics. As I will demonstrate, this mechanism negates the conventional dichotomy between exploiter and exploited–indeed, between the concept of coerciveness and choice–offering a reading that accounts for the slippage between these categories within the text. Under such a reading, complex networks of power dynamics weave Shabtai’s novel, and are deciphered by employing different languages of meaning. In addition, I will show that Shabtai’s literary form is influenced by the neoliberal nature of work and can be read as a stock portfolio.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-185
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Israeli History
Issue number1
StateAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2023


  • Hebrew literature
  • human capital
  • neoliberalism
  • speculation
  • work

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Political Science and International Relations


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