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Lying Fallow [Shmita]

Esti Halperin-Maymon

In a religious settlement, among the identical houses, inhabited by similar families, inside a closed and conservative community, a forbidden relationship is growing between a teacher and one of her female students.

Tamar is a 27-year-old teacher of language and literature in a religious girls’ seminary and, according to her strictly Orthodox community, is an aging spinster. All the other women of her age are married with children, and she is scorned for being different. She lives in a small apartment next to her parents’ home and spends her free time marking her students’ work and clinging to memories of her love for Michal, an old classmate. Naomi, a lovely, much-courted 17-year-old student, lost her mother in a terror attack and her world seems to be falling apart. Soon, she will be engaged to Avishai, a handsome and much admired young man in the settlement. All the girls are in love with him, but is Naomi? She wonders whether he understands her and can make her happy.

An implicit lesbian connection springs up between Tamar and Naomi. The essays Naomi submits to Tamar, and Tamar’s remarks about them are the code through which the two signal their attraction for each other, their refusal to live by the norms of their community, and their fears.

Lying Fallow [Shmita], Esti Halperin-Mymon’s debut novel, is seductive and profound. It calls on the reader to realize the power and price of being different; to contemplate the disturbing fact that identity–personal, communal and sexual–is fluid; and to acknowledge a fundamental otherness within the human condition that cannot be overcome, except at brief moments of grace. 


The settlers may be in the headlines, but literature has hardly dealt with them. Lying Fallow  offers a fresh, one-off look at an unusual love relationship that grows between two Orthodox Jewish women. The tension between the community and the individual reverberates on every page. This is an intriguing and exciting glimpse into a world that has not yet been discovered, and into the forces that drive it. Lying Fallow is a sensitive and profound novel.

Author Ayelet Gundar-Goshen


I read Lying Fallow, Esti’s first novel, in one breath … A brilliant book … Halperin-Maymon cleverly weaves together two non-mainstream groups … She gets readers of all stripes to empathize with both settlers and lesbians, two groups fighting for their place in Israeli society.

Emily Amrousi, Israel Hayom


Esti Halperin-Maymon is a true writer, and that is no trivial matter. She knows how to develop a story, she controls the reader’s attention, and there is a certain authority in her tone … Her Hebrew is taut and she weaves together the chapters of her book in a poetic way that is unusual in first novels. She seems to have been born with the skill. She [simply] knows how to write.

Yael Geller, Yedioth Ahronoth


A very complex book…It makes a bold statement…Good and interesting.

Rona Speizman, Radio Kan Tarbut

A moving story about the difficulty in being an individual in a community … A book that concerns all of us … Surprising and touching. 

Nili Leibovich, Radio Kol Hakinneret


It broke my heart … Astonishing … A lovely book.

Meira Barnea Goldberg, KAN 11 TV

Title Lying Fallow [Shmita]
Author’s Last Name Halperin-Maymon
Author's First Name Esti
Language(s) Hebrew
Genre novel
Publisher (Hebrew) Kinneret, Zmora-Bitan
Year of Publication (Hebrew) 2017
No. Pages 239 pp.
Book title - Hebrew (phonetic) Shmita
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!