The Mean Streets of Beersheba: The Place of the City in Shulamit Lapid’s Lizzie Badiḥi Series
Abstract

ABSTRACT:

We have been accustomed to associating the detective novel with the “mean streets” of the city since the hard-boiled novels of Raymond Chandler. The detective writer serves as a cartographer of sorts, the protagonist of his works becoming a flâneur according Walter Benjamin’s definition—one who walks the urban streets of the city acknowledging its diverse forces and heterogenic population. In this article I examine how the city of Beersheba, the capital of the Negev, is depicted in Shulamit Lapid’s Lizzie Badiḥi series, following Lefebvre’s observation that “the spatial practice of a society is revealed through the deciphering of its space.” The fact that it is both the central city in its area and a periphery town, when compared to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, gives it a hybrid character, constituting it as Homi K. Bhabha’s “third space” that blurs the binary hierarchy between center and periphery. Over the period which the series spans (the first book was published in 1989 the latest in 2007), both Beersheba and Israeli society have changed and developed. I demonstrate how these changes are reflected in the series as I examine Lizzie as a figure that symbolizes Beersheba.