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Fanny and Gabriel

Nava Semel

“You will marry twice,” a Roma fortuneteller told Fanny, but she found this hard to believe. Gabriel, her fiancé, had vanished, thought killed in the war, but Fanny remained faithful to him, just as Penelope was faithful to Odysseus.

Fanny and Gabriel were born in Bukovina, part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. They got engaged just before World War 1, but then Gabriel, like many others, was conscripted into the Imperial army. He hated war and military life and after his commander was killed in a Russian bombardment, he decided to desert, finding shelter and love with a young Russian peasant woman. He stayed with her for three years, without being in touch with his family. Meanwhile, far away, his fiancée Fanny continued to sell the excellent beer her father brewed.

When the war was over, Gabriel came home and married her. He made her swear never to ask about his years of absence, and although she tried, Fanny could not make him love her, even after the birth of their son, Yitzhak. Gabriel felt that his future lay in America. In 1921, he set sail for the United States, promising to send tickets for his wife and son as soon as he was settled. He became a Wall Street stockbroker but he never sent the tickets. A charming man, he had many affairs and lived for years with Clara as if they were man and wife. As for Fanny, the only man in her life was her talented son, and his resourcefulness saw them through the Holocaust. After World War 2, Yitzhak, his new wife and Fanny emigrated to Palestine.

Twenty-eight years after he left them, Gabriel comes to the new State of Israel to see his grandson. He finally divorces Fanny and goes back to New York. But the story of their love is not over. Ten years later, Gabriel reappears in Fanny’s life and proposes to her once again. Despite everything she accepts.

A spellbinding Jewish-Israeli novel, based on the life of the author’s grandparents, Gabriel and Fanny Hertzig. A Tale of love and hate that coincides with the great events that shook the world in the 20th century.




A delicate combination of detachment, intimacy and irony … This special manner of narration, which is postmodern, is surprising … The heroes of this book are young people who grow up and grow old as the story progresses. Accompanying them is the narrator-granddaughter  … This is one of the secrets of the book’s magic. The girl infuses the tough and tortuous story of her grandmother and grandfather  with a playful,  amusing aspect without removing its enigmatic and heartbreaking sting … She does not adhere to a single point of view, but rather molds it and changes it frequently, thereby enabling the reader to read the story in a variety of different ways …  A good, worthy novel … In an elusive and elaborate manner, the writer manages to plant in the reader an affection for the serial betrayer and doubts about the ultimately loyal female. This is one of the sad insights acquired while reading this wise and sensitive book: The suffering that people cause to those that they love cannot be prevented, and the people who cause the suffering are not necessarily bad.  

Author Judith Rotem, Haaretz


Vivid … The two main characters keep growing taller and stronger, amassing significance and influence over the events, up to a point where they resemble mythic characters … An engrossing work.

Talma Admon, Maariv


Semel has skillfully spun a tale that is both historical and personal. Further proof that she is one of the compelling writers to have blossomed here.

Omri Horesh, Mako

A riveting book! The ostensibly private family story becomes a collective story as reflected in the annals of a single family … It adds another stone to the colorful mosaic of the history of the Jewish people in our time. In particular Nava has succeeded in dovetailing reality and fiction, in closing the gaps and making the thin, emaciated skeleton of what actually happened into a wide-ranging novel that gives a faithful historical picture of Jewish life, and life in general … This is one of those books that I enjoyed every moment of while I was reading it, and I did not want it to end.

Prof. Nurit Govrin


A moving story. An enchanting book

Tsippy Gon-Gross, IDF Radio


Fanny and Gabriel is first and foremost a love story. But don’t be mistaken … this is a love with many layers … As one reads, and it is almost impossible to stop reading, a much broader canvas is unfurled … The story of one Jewish family between exile and redemption, between the Holocaust and resurrection, between Diaspora and Zionism. The saga tickles the imagination, and produces tears of sorrow and of joy throughout the entire book … This is the story of the survival of the family of this so-talented author, Nava Semel. The long and tortuous story is read with bated breath … The story’s uniqueness lies mainly in the unique writing skill of Nava Semel … the linguistic richness, her remarkable descriptive powers, her amazing imagination – which was already revealed in her earlier books – and her great love for the heroes of her books and her identification with their fate.

Nili Keren, Mako

A marvelous book. A wonderful story that Nava wraps in a whole lot of things that she made up and with amazing insights about life. A remarkable book.

Rivka Michaeli, Radio 103.FM


I flew behind these two folks in their joys and in their sorrows. Such wise and refined writing. A delicate piece of embroidery work. And what a wonderful reconstruction of an era.

Author Adiva Geffen



Title Fanny and Gabriel
Author’s Last Name Semel
Author's First Name Nava
Language(s) Hebrew
Genre novel
Publisher (Hebrew) Zmora-Bitan
Year of Publication (Hebrew) 2017
No. Pages 460 pp.
Book title - Hebrew (phonetic) Fanny Ve-Gavriel
Representation Represented by ITHL
The Ministry of Culture and Sport announced the names of the winners of the Arik Einstein Veterans Artists Prize.
A prize of 50,000 NIS was given to each of the 21 artists who worked and are still working to promote Israeli culture in various fields -Music, dance, theater, plastic arts, cinema and literature. In the literature category the winners were Ronny Someck, Jacob Buchan and Shlomit Cohen-Assif. Also, Anat Masiach is among the recipient of the prize for debut literary works. Congratulations!
Congratulations to Ronit Matalon, the recipient of the 2017 Brenner prize for her book 'And the Bride Closed the Door". And, congratulations to Amir ziv, the recipent of the first ever Brenner prize for debut novels.
Ronit Matalon's book tells the story of Margie, a young bride, who shuts herself up in her mother's bedroom and declares that she won’t get married. Her family gathers at the locked door, not knowing what to do. Amir Ziv tells a story that begins as an apparently routine correspondence between a prying citizen, secretly in love with his neighbor, and a conscientious municipal clerk, and developes into an uncovering of a great underlying drama.
The fourth German-Hebrew/Hebrew-German translation workshop April 29 to May 5, 2018 Beit Ben-Yehuda, Jerusalem
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: Sunday, April 29, 2018 until Saturday, May 5, 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,
Ayelet Gundar-Goshen's "Waking Lions" is one of the 100 notable books of 2017 of the "New York Times".

Congratulations to Zeruya Shalev and Shifra Horn for receiving the 2017 Adei Wizo Prize.

Ayelet Gundar-Goshen's "Waking Lions" is longlisted for the 2018 International Dublin Literary Award
Ayelet Gundar-Goshen's "Waking Lions" is longlisted for the 2018 International Dublin Literary Award! The books on the longlist are selected by 400 libraries worldwide. Titles are nominated on the basis of ‘high literary merit’ as determined by the nominating library.
Call for application: Artists in Residence Programme in Austria. Please note the deadline: September 18th, 2017.
In co-operation with KulturKontakt Austria, the Austrian Federal Chancellery makes available 50 residencies to visual artists / art photographers / composers / video and media artists / writers / literary translators and arts and cultural educators in Vienna and Salzburg for the year 2018. For more details:
ITHL director on Grossman's win
"Grossman winning is not only his own achievement, but the achievement of the Hebrew literature as a whole", - Nilli Cohen on the first Hebrew author to receive Man Booker International Prize. Click here for the full article in Hebrew.
Yitzchak Mayer's personal website goes live
English edition of Yitzchak Mayer's amazing "Silent Letter" is about to come out with Mosaic Press. Learn more about the author's incredible life story on his brand new website.
MHL - New webzine starting soon!