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Blanche

Yitzhak Gormezano Goren

Blanche is Gormezano Goren second novel about Alexandria. The sweeping plot takes place in the second half of the 1940s and centers on a beautiful young Jewish girl. Blanche came to Alexandria with her grandmother from the island of Corfu, after her mother absconded with her Italian lover and her father vanished while trying to track down his treacherous wife. The adventurous and sensual girl, her sexuality blossoming, has a love affair with Gaston, a wealthy playboy, the spoiled son of her employer.  Gaston changes girlfriends like socks, discarding them after they give in to him, until he meets Blanche, who manages to trap him in her web. She enjoys his gifts, his money and his love, but preserves her chastity. But then at his father’s bidding he has to give her up and marry a rich woman. So what will happen to the unfortunate Blanche? She shall not remain alone, because her grandmother and a neighbor weave a plot of their own behind her back and make a match for her with Raphael, a poor but handsome young man, member of a Zionist underground cell.

Together with Blanche, the city of Alexandria is a heroine of the novel, and they are both in full flower. Alexandria is a lively, colorful, lovely, liberated and even profligate cosmopolitan city, where nothing is sacred apart from money. Gormezano Goren depicts it with great skill, in vivid colors, with a feather-light touch and a humor devoid of nostalgia, while highlighting its tolerance and the good-neighborly relations between the Arab Muslims and Christians and the Jews, who have come there from both east and west. But all this changes. When Blanche and Raphael leave the city in the early 1950s and emigrate to Israel, Blanche’s beauty withers, as does the beloved city that she is leaving, never to return.


REVIEWS

Gormezano Goren writes with vibrant wit. His style always strikes the right note: slightly self-conscious without coyness; skeptical and aloof from his characters without losing sympathy for them; vivid and accurate in description … He is especially successful in dialogue, conveying the flavor of talk in many idioms. There's a lot of fun in this book, in the style, in the twists of the plot and in its hedonistic approach … Blanche is a landmark in today's Israeli culture.

Jeffrey M. Green, The Jerusalem Post

 

It is enchanting in its beauty, sensuality, and colorfulness, and it does not disappoint the high hopes raised by its predecessor, Alexandrian Summer. To read it is to take part in a little festival of shifting sights which arouse one's curiosity without letting go for a moment, until one finishes the whole book in a single gulp … A splendid novel … full of flavors, odors and instincts … The great importance of Blanche, as well as the earlier book, does not lie only in that they enrich Hebrew literature and Israeli culture with the unique tissue of the Jewish community of Alexandria. It is equally that these novels undermine demagogic stereotypes about ethnicity … Today Yitzhak Gormezano Goren is among the best writers writing in Hebrew in Israel.

Ehud Ben-Ezer, Modern Hebrew Literature


One of the loveliest and most moving novels.

Keshet (Jerusalem)


Title Blanche
Author’s Last Name Gormezano Goren
Author's First Name Itzhak
Language(s) Hebrew
Genre novel
Publisher (Hebrew) Am Oved
Year of Publication (Hebrew) 1986
No. Pages 212 pp.
Book title - Hebrew (phonetic) Blansh
Representation Represented by ITHL
 
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