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


In 2013, Nicky Gluch 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. She thought she wanted to be a doctor, that healing people would fulfil a sense of purpose, but as she dove deeper into exploring that which divides us – religion, language, country – she came to seek that which unites us.

Nicky Gluch has a vision of 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.’



The Universal Language is such an intimate, personal account of what was clearly a seminal time in your life. And you have such a lyrical, soulful style. It’s clear you stand at the confluence of a number of disciplines and perspectives – musical, scientific, philosophical, theological – and that’s a rare and special prism through which to see the world.’  Adam, GB

In spite of the contrasts and contradictions which the author experiences in Israel, she is eternally optimistic that music is one medium which unites people. Nicky shares her vulnerabilities, her doubts, her pleasures as she experiences the country’s unique paradoxes, bouncing from interactions with fellow students, hospital staff, nuns, Jews and Palestinians. This memoir of her time in the ‘Promised Land’ is a kaleidoscope of personal reflections, philosophy, history, religion and even maths. It is an invitation to peek into Nicky’s world.  Lawrence Goodstone, Sydney


I found the book beautifully written, not over-sentimental and, above all, very brave. You have opened yourself truthfully and I followed your journey then in empathy with you as a young girl. Though certainly more mature than I was, doing it in the ’60s with a couple of friends!  Maureen, GB

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