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You, Who Live So Beautifully

Michal Peer

You, Who Live So Beautifully is a sweeping, wild novel that relates the tale of a young family in a poor suburb of Tel Aviv. It begins in the late 1980s when the father, Kika Weinstein, a charming conman with a captivating personality who got entangled in lies but still harbors dreams of getting rich quick, flees the country. Leaving his wife Miriam and children Ilsa and Assi with promises to “fix them up with a new life,” he heads to England and then vanishes, leaving behind only debts and a family that is falling apart. Kika is a pro at making promises and building castles in the air, but disappoints everyone around him again and again, robs them of their money and leaves them penniless.

The novel moves back and forth in time and space, reveals a web of false identities and wanderings, as well as a suffering branch of the family tree that sprang from Kika’s mother. She lost her family in the Holocaust and was keen to get rid of her infant son by placing him in an orphanage. Years later, after Kika abandons the family he has built, his daughter Ilsa – the main narrator –  must grow up prematurely and deal with her disrupted world, including her dysfunctional mother, who gets together with random men only to be disappointed by them later. Ilsa has an ambivalent attitude towards her father: She too, like the others, is entrapped by his charms and she interprets the family’s story as a fatal, predestined collapse. Three years after he left them, she and her brother meet their father in New York and realize that he hasn’t changed. But the renewed acquaintance with his magnetic personality forces Ilsa to face up to the destructive and dark elements that are imprinted in her as well. At 18, she becomes a fashion model. Pretty, malevolent and lost, she wants to taste the good life and is not deterred by any risks or dubious escapades.

PARTIAL ENGLISH TRANSLATION AVAILABLE (for publishers only)



REVIEWS

The language of the novel has a remarkable effect, achieved in the very name of the book: Not only do its characters stay with you after you’ve read it, but also their music; the rhythm of the speech and of the dream, of their interaction with the world, continues to reverberate in the ear days after the book has been closed and put on the shelf … The four parts of the novel … are constructed with great skill and brilliance.  

Chen Shtrass, Haaretz


A superb book … lovely, moving and full of adventures, that is very worth a read … This is a debut book, but nevertheless it has no unresolved plot lines, no characters who appear and then inexplicably disappear, and the timing is excellent, with Peer knowing precisely when to move on to the next thing. Peer’s skill is evident in a number of areas. First of all, in the title. What a great title! In five words it describes an entire world … Secondly, the heroes … Third, in the way the story is told … and fourthly in the statement the book makes … Peer chooses a tone that is a rare combination of resignation and acceptance of the situation on the one hand, and the exploitation by the heroes’ of all the means at their disposal to live a better life, and this is particularly enjoyable. 

Meital Sharon, Mako


You, Who Live So Beautifully
is a most impressive literary achievement, both as a first book and in general.

Ran Bin-Nun, Yedioth Ahronoth


The first thing that catches your attention in Michal Peer’s novel is the title, which charmingly challenges the reader to probe deeper into the book. At a time when so many books compete for readers’ attention, Peer manages to stand out and to present her book in an intriguing manner … Peer has an impressive writing talent, and she certainly demonstrates this in the novel … The forward and backward movement in time, the transition from one character’s point of view to another’s, all create a book brimming over with sweeping cinematic values … The attempt to go against conventional literary structure is an interesting and admirable step.  

Simona Baht, Ynet


More than anything else, You, Who Live So Beautifully honestly tackles the problem of the disintegration of the family (and not just any family, but one from the lower class, far less glamorous than other families in literature) into a million pieces, and it does so with very few clichés ... The story flows along naturally and it makes for a pleasant read.  

Nimrod Ofran, Walla


A very impressive first novel … One may wager that Peer is at the outset of a literary career that will gain much attention from both critics and readers … She writes excellently. She knows how to tell a story, and she does with a combination of wild humor, great sensitivity, and poetic precision.

Dafna Levy, Laisha


Peer succeeds in an almost impossible mission: To tell about a Tel Aviv family that no one can feel that they already know.

Tamar Raphael, Time Out


I loved this remarkable book. A first novel by a writer, about whom I have no doubt we will hear a great deal. The writing is beautiful and touching and it is easily possible to identify with the characters, especially the charming Ilsa … Moving.

Carmit Bar-Gil, Saloona


Peer’s lovely prose is delicate and poetic but not ornate.

Israel Hayom

 

Title You, Who Live So Beautifully
Author’s Last Name Peer
Author's First Name Michal
Language(s) Hebrew
Genre novel
Publisher (Hebrew) Achuzat Bayit
Year of Publication (Hebrew) 2016
No. Pages 282 pp.
Book title - Hebrew (phonetic) Atem, She-Chayim Yafeh Kol Kach
Representation Represented by ITHL
 
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