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Gerda and Felix

Gerda Cohen
AGE: 10-14

Gerda Cohen's autobiographical story of her childhood in Bremauer of the 1930s is a eulogy to that haven and a celebration of its abundance. Despite the ominous presence of future events, the focus is on the young girl's coming of age, beginning when Gerda was three, and following her, meticulously, until the day she "stopped being a child" – when the Jews were expelled from her school.
The story begins with Gerda’s mother, a milliner and a fine cook like other women in her family. The descriptions of the kitchen and larders, the wonders of the dinner table, take us directly into the Treidels' world and make it convincing. This is true memory at work: the careful recollection of the past in all its intensity, unpredictability and wonder.
Somewhat clumsy, Gerda outshines her classmates in writing and by the time she is six, she can recite Goethe and Schiller by heart. Her older brother Felix, on the other hand, is an all-round sportsman. He appoints Gerda goalkeeper, so he can practise football, and reluctantly teaches her how to ride a bicycle. An array of other quirky characters color Gerda's childhood: the priest's sisters, who teach her to play the piano as "relief from the dreariness of life";the neighbor who terrorizes everyone with his dog; Uncle Joseph, the "monster" who takes Gerda on a nightmare holiday to Cologne. However outlandish and cruel this motley bunch may sometimes seem, Gerda remembers each one with compassion.
Told in the third person, the narrative is unsentimental and down-to-earth. The storyteller never loses her sense of humor, describing calamities with the deadpan wit and thick-skinned tone of a Brothers Grimm story. Cohen's recreation of the longing, pain and beauty of her childhood makes Gerda and Felix an exquisite childhood memoir.

German translation available (for publishers only)

GCohen Gerda and Felix
Title Gerda and Felix
Author’s Last Name Cohen
Author's First Name Gerda
Genre youth
Publisher (Hebrew) Sifriat Poalim
Year of Publication (Hebrew) 1995
No. Pages 160 pp.
Book title - Hebrew (phonetic) Yalda Meʹohevet
Representation Represented by ITHL


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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: November 4th 2018 until November 10th, 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,
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