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And the Rat Laughed

Nava Semel
And The Rat Laughed is a five-part novel dealing with the horrors of the Holocaust and the influence of this harrowing chapter of human history on man’s relationship with God; on the understanding of human nature; on the need to forget in order to survive; and on the need to remember, nonetheless.
Part One is the story of a nameless five-year-old child, as it is told to her granddaughter years later. The child`s parents entrust her to a family of farmers living in a remote, picturesque village. She is hidden in a dark potato cellar for approximately a year, with little food and only a rat for company - and raped repeatedly by the farmers` son. The narrative, which alternately advances and retreats, also presents a metafictional contemplation of the act of storytelling: What is its purpose? Does it really have the power to liberate the storyteller? Does the act of silencing and obliteration transform memory into an independent entity, governed by memory - "the story`s legal offspring"?
Part Two is the granddaughter`s diary, which sheds more light on the survivor`s story as well as on the title of the novel. The rat, according to the alternative myth of creation related by the grandmother, demanded that God grant him the gift of laughter, but soon came to realize God`s most miserable mistake: "... in a world where children must be hidden ...chaos is not simply an incidental "bug," but a complete systems breakdown. Such a world should be destroyed from its foundations and rebuilt from the start."
Part Three, a collection of poems ostensibly written by the survivor child, is followed by a research report (Part Four) written in the year 2099 by an anthropologist bent on uncovering the origins of the widespread "Girl and Rat" myth. This chapter, which defines myth as "encrypted historical memory," is also a reflection on the nature of memory - its persistent presence in man`s consciousness; its scarring effects; and the possibility of subsequent hope: "A historical scar is indeed no guarantee that horrific events will not repeat themselves; the existence of memory can, nevertheless, grant some hope." Part Five, the novel`s final chapter, is the diary of the priest who takes the child in. In an attempt to restore her speech, her hope and her faith in God and mankind, he discovers that he has lost his own.

A world that is becoming all too unreal to all too many people is here recaptured, brought to the light, through a process that everyone can empathize with and understand.
Author Leslie Epstein

A powerful and deeply arresting novel.
Australia Jewish News

An exquisitely wrought meditation… integrating story, legend, poetry, dream, science fiction and diary.
Forward (USA)

One of the most interesting new books.

Semel And the Rat Laughed
Title And the Rat Laughed
Author’s Last Name Semel
Author's First Name Nava
Language(s) English, German, Italian, Romanian
Genre novel
Publisher (Hebrew) Yedioth Ahronoth
Year of Publication (Hebrew) 2001
No. Pages 249 pp.
Book title - Hebrew (phonetic) Tzchok Shel Achbarosh
Representation Represented by ITHL


German: Mannheim, Persona, 2007
English: Victoria, Austr., Hybrid, 2008
Italian: Rome, Atmosphere Libri, 2012
Romanian: Bucharest, Hasefer, 2014
Congratulations to Barabara Harshav for the 2018 PEN Medal for Translation!
The prize is given to a translator whose career has demonstrated a commitment to excellence through the body of their work. Barbara Harshav has been translating works from French, German, Hebrew and Yiddish for over twenty years and has currently published over forty books of translation. Among the many Hebrew authors she has translated: Yoram Kaniuk, Agnon, Yehudit Hendel, Yehuda Amichai and many more.
The Ministry of Culture and Sport announced the names of the winners of the Arik Einstein Veterans Artists Prize.
A prize of 50,000 NIS was given to each of the 21 artists who worked and are still working to promote Israeli culture in various fields -Music, dance, theater, plastic arts, cinema and literature. In the literature category the winners were Ronny Someck, Jacob Buchan and Shlomit Cohen-Assif. Also, Anat Masiach is among the recipient of the prize for debut literary works. Congratulations!
Congratulations to Ronit Matalon, the recipient of the 2017 Brenner prize for her book 'And the Bride Closed the Door". And, congratulations to Amir ziv, the recipent of the first ever Brenner prize for debut novels.
Ronit Matalon's book tells the story of Margie, a young bride, who shuts herself up in her mother's bedroom and declares that she won’t get married. Her family gathers at the locked door, not knowing what to do. Amir Ziv tells a story that begins as an apparently routine correspondence between a prying citizen, secretly in love with his neighbor, and a conscientious municipal clerk, and developes into an uncovering of a great underlying drama.
The fourth German-Hebrew/Hebrew-German translation workshop April 29 to May 5, 2018 Beit Ben-Yehuda, Jerusalem
After workshops in Berlin, Jerusalem and Straelen, the workshop will return to Jerusalem this spring. This workshop will focus on the participants translations. These are unfinished translations that have not yet been published. These will be sent to all participants. The workshop is open to 10 participants and is intended for literary translators with experience and publications. Workshop facilitators: Anne Birkenhauer and Gadi Goldberg Prerequisites: At least one published translation Duration: Sunday, April 29, 2018 until Saturday, May 5, 2018 Location: Beit Ben-Yehuda, 28 Ein Gedi St., 93383 Jerusalem Participation fee: Participation (Accommodation and meals) is free of charge. Travel / flight expenses will be refunded. For more details and for the documents required for submitting application: Anne Birkenhauer, and Gadi Goldberg,
Ayelet Gundar-Goshen's "Waking Lions" is one of the 100 notable books of 2017 of the "New York Times".

Congratulations to Zeruya Shalev and Shifra Horn for receiving the 2017 Adei Wizo Prize.

Ayelet Gundar-Goshen's "Waking Lions" is longlisted for the 2018 International Dublin Literary Award
Ayelet Gundar-Goshen's "Waking Lions" is longlisted for the 2018 International Dublin Literary Award! The books on the longlist are selected by 400 libraries worldwide. Titles are nominated on the basis of ‘high literary merit’ as determined by the nominating library.
Yitzchak Mayer's personal website goes live
English edition of Yitzchak Mayer's amazing "Silent Letter" is about to come out with Mosaic Press. Learn more about the author's incredible life story on his brand new website.
MHL - New webzine starting soon!