Nicky Gluch’s latest book – launched in a spirit of reconciliation and universality at Ariel Bookstore this week.

The Universal Language is a memoir about the unity of music set in the complexity of Israel. It shows how, as a young woman studying in Jerusalem, Nicky Gluch came to question her own identity through the prism of a divided city.

In 2013, Nicky Gluch was finding out a lot about cultural differences in the world. She knew herself to be Australian, a woman, aged 19 and a Jew. In Israel, she found herself travelling with Americans, working alongside Palestinians, and living, for a time, with an Arab nun. And she learnt a lot from these diverse connections.

She thought she wanted to be a doctor, that healing people would fulfil a sense of purpose for her, but as she dove deeper into exploring that which divides us – religion, language, country – she came to seek that which unites us – music.

In interview, Nicky Gluch talks about what message she wants readers to gain from her stories:

‘We should be seeking that which unites us rather than that which divides. But the aim of the book is more to provide a reflective space.

‘I call it a book of fragments. How the pieces come together is one part, but I also urge readers to look between the gaps.’

Sydney School of Arts & Humanities recommends The Universal Language as a remarkably thoughtful journey of self-exploration and caring for ‘other’ – for both author and reader.


Copyright photos Helena Amiesen

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