Ostensibly a detective mystery, this
light-hearted first novel is built like a box within a box. Wandering about Tel
Aviv during the 1991 Gulf War, the narrator comes across the diary of Avner
Ben-Horin, former policeman turned private detective, and retells his story.
The diary dates back to British Mandate Tel Aviv during the 1930s - an
energetic, defiant fledgling town with bizarre frontier quality (unlike the
modern city under missile attack, stunned by its vulnerability and fearing its
destruction). An introspective man with a literary bent, Avner Ben-Horin is
hired to unravel the disappearance of Zecharia Yulin, but his personal account
of the investigative trail is in fact a shell, opening to reveal an intensely
nostalgic, confessional narrative. Indeed, the mystery disappearance is solved at
the conclusion of Ben-Horin's diary within his help.
Under detective cover, Sivan (whose
distinctive poetic voice is heard throughout) paints a colorful, exotic period
in Tel Aviv's history, including the violent political fissions of leftists and
Communists of the time, the literati, love affairs and oddball characters from
all corners of the earth. His target is also the nature of literary creation.
The nameless contemporary narrator returns at the end to consider Ben-Horin's
motive for writing down the tale of his failed stab at detective work. He
raises an array of possibilities, so doing the work of critics and saving them
the use of their scalpel. The true subject of the novel, however, is the author's
loving, sinuous recreation of place and era.
ENGLISH TRANSLATION AVAILABLE (for publishers only).
Adonis is a unique book in modern Hebrew literature ...
Aryeh Sivan has set a landmark with Adonis
The book can be read in various ways - as a detective story, as a political thriller, as an intelligent mythology ... Aryeh Sivan's language extends beyond the terrain and offers the resonance of dimensions, drawing on subterranean tones such as one hardly expects in Jewish context.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
You can clearly feel the atmosphere of the time …
Sivan has written a wonderful, poetic novel, in which the detective story only appears to reign.
The novel offers not only a plot of a
complex thriller with mysterious characters, but also a colorful picture of Tel
Aviv at the beginning of the 1930s.
Neue Züricher Zeitung
Sivan unfolds a colorful panorama
which reminds us, in its suggestive Mediterranean atmosphere and subtly drawn
characters, of Lawrence Durrell's Alexandria
Adonis offers much pleasure
to readers who know Tel Aviv of the present.
This book is a gift כor riddle solvers … It will satisfy the appetites of detective lovers, as well as
those who appreciate love stories and word games. I am deeply grateful for the
erotic scenes, probably the best in Hebrew literature … Sivan deals with the
subject with taste and courage … Sivan's book is thoroughly entertaining, full
of eye-winking and tongue-in-cheek wit.
Yehudit Orian, Yedioth Ahronoth
The best suspense novel written in
Hebrew, which also serves me as source of inspiration and envy, that I don't
bother to hide, is Adonis by Aryeh Sivan. It's a book that works on all
levels: a thriller, a period novel and in particular an intelligent puzzle.
Author Gal Amir, Haaretz
Adonis is undoubtedly the
best detective book in Hebrew.
Eli Eshed, Literary blog