Victor and Masha, a brother and sister, live with their grandmother Katerina in an immigrant neighborhood near Haifa. The two came to Israel from the Soviet Union with their parents, only to be orphaned in a road accident two years later. After stints at a boarding school, then on a kibbutz, they are finally taken in by their grandmother when she too comes to Israel. It is 1977, and the Labor Party, which has ruled Israel since it was first established, is about to lose its power to the right wing, headed by Menachem Begin. Sixteen-year-old Victor, and Masha, age seventeen, are trying to find their place in a divided, destabilized Israeli society, made up of new immigrants from Eastern Europe, slightly more veteran immigrants from Middle Eastern countries, and veteran Israelis with clear identities and ideals who are gradually losing their dominant position. Kimhi has written a penetrating, critical novel about immigrant life, that brilliantly analyses Israeli society. But it is also the personal story of Victor and Masha, who have an almost symbiotic relationship. Masha, the stronger of the two, is a rebellious, blunt young woman with a strong sense of identity, who guards her independence and rejects any attempt to approach her. Victor is gentle and delicate, eager to integrate and be liked. The closer his friendship—and then love—for his classmate Nimrod, a proud sabra, the weaker his ties with his sister become. But Masha refuses to give up her hold on her brother. Whether it is from a selfishness that interferes with Victor’s happiness or a desire to protect him from inevitable disappointment—either way, she struggles to bring him back to her and restore him to his roots.
ENGLISH TRANSLATION AVAILABLE (for publishers only).
In this impressive novel, Alona Kimhi's voice is heard in
its full strength and distinction: wise, daring, ironic, funny, and painful.
A terrible novel. Terribly beautiful.
The book of laughter and oblivion… [Written with]
joyous ferocity. With – and this is where Kimhi’s ingenuity lies – electric
sensitivity coursing through the text.
Fascinating, captivating and original characters … Alona
Kimchi delights fearlessly in the deviations, weaknesses and vices of her
characters and also enables them to embark on marvelous literary moments that
pluck them out of the dour neighborhood without a hint of affectation … Kimhi’s
characters are always sexy, full of vitality, and very convincing … A wonderful
An amazing novel … The characters are complex, beautiful and
colorful in their otherness … To my mind, the book’s great achievement lies in
the unique voice, so rare in Hebrew, that Kimhi has given the Russian narrator …
a beautiful, biting, ironic voice that is in itself almost a symphony… The realistic depiction is
absolutely Chekhovian … This is without any doubt the best book about immigrants
written here in many decades … It shakes off clichés, breaks down conventions
and builds worlds with great self-discipline yet impressive linguistic freedom.
It is impossible not to fall in love with both Victor and Masha, and certainly
with the amazing voice that guides them.
Kimhi’s new novel is also her best ... It contains the first encounter of its kind with the stories of Russian immigrants. It is also an honest tale of adolescence, beauty and cruelty and it stays with you long after you’ve finished reading it.
continues to take an interest in characters that are fragile and vulnerable, but
also have an open and self-aware dimension of evil, violence and selfishness.
This, to my mind, her great strength as an author.
A lovely, delicate novel that elicits identification by
everyone who has (and who hasn’t?) experienced detachment and alienation from
his or her surroundings.
There is a kind of depth of the everyday that reaches into the mazes of the soul. This book is of exceptionally high quality, very reminiscent of great European, Russian literature.
sweeping, earthy novel that shows a reality that we thought we knew well in a
sober and disturbing light.
One of the most beautiful books I have read this year ... The grandmother, Katarina, is one of the most riveting characters created in local literature.