Ten years after she was seriously injured in a terrorist attack, the pain comes back to torment Iris, the heroine of Zeruya Shalev’s new novel. But that is not all: Eitan, the love of her youth also comes back into her life. And although their relationship ended many years ago, she was more deeply wounded when he left her than by the suicide bomber who blew himself up next to her.
Iris’s marriage is stalled. Her two children have grown up and are almost independent; she herself has become a dedicated, successful school principal. But now, after years of living without passion and joy, Eitan brings them back into her life. Unhappily, she must concoct all sorts of lies to conceal her love from her family, and the lies become more and more complicated. But can one ever restore the love of one’s youth?
Iris is in an impossible predicament, and in order to decide she tries to fathom whether her love with Eitan can heal all her pain, and more essentially, whether in the process she would have to hurt the people who are closest to her.
ENGLISH TRANSLATION AVAILABLE (for publishers only).
A great book, that ends with a therapeutic catharsis.
The original, complex and subversive nature of Shalev’s new novel
emerges when we examine the way she treats the issue of pain in its
literary-national context … Shalev submits to familiar paths in order to
disrupt them from the inside and to change their direction and their
destination. And she does this like a virtuoso, soaring but also meticulous, on
the levels of both the structure and the style, as befits a great writer.
Yigal Schwartz, Haaretz
Intense, clever, funny, absolutely
remarkable… A great love story… A masterpiece. It’s an outstanding book,
Michel Crépu for “Le Masque et La Plume”,
Radio France Inter
Written in one breath… Under cover of the intimate there is a
Zeruya Shalev does not merely weave a
variation on the eternal dilemma between heart and reason. This captivating
novel, between suffering and grace, is also a brilliant reflection on the
dominance of the past over the present, of the ideal over the real, of the
couple over the individual. It resonates like an allegory of Israel, the duty
and destiny for its hectic children.
“Pain” is a book that is both totally
universal and absolutely feminine… Zeruya Shalev writes in a superb language.
Le Figaro Magazine
For the Israeli novelist, writing is first of all listening to her
characters. "Pain” is an admirable testament to that… It is, among a thousand other things, an
astonishing reflection on second chances and on obsession with the past.
literary pleasure… [Shalev’s] fifth novel confirms once again the immense
talent of this writer. Intense and masterful… And this is the strength of Zeruya Shalev, to
steer her narrative ceaselessly towards new horizons.
A majestic novel… Zeruya Shalev knows how to paint gracefully the
fragility of a family, and of love.
Incredibly intimate…Rare and difficult
as all that is beautiful.
Great Israeli author… [This book is] a turning point
in her career.
The wizard that is Zeruya
Shalev transforms unresolved mourning and unrecognized wounds into a rebirth.
are shaken and fascinated at the same time, dazzled by the masterful narration
of this major writer.
A great book that speaks about pain,
terrorism and the state called Israel… Magnificent.
From the great Israeli writer, a novel that
searches through the cracks in our souls. The quest for the origin of
Elena Stancanelli, D la Repubblica
In an ironic paradox (this magnificent book is
full of irony), it is pain that induces Iris to open the drawers that have been
locked for too many years. …Shalev writes in a free, sensual, impetuous,
sometimes excessive manner… Convalescence (the end of pain) makes existence
full and delicious.
Corriere della Sera
As a true archaeologist of the soul, Zeruya
Shalev does neglects no thought.
[Shalev's] fiction is within the best Israeli
contemporary novel tradition that […] almost always circumvents and
circumnavigates the country's political situation, preferring to reflect it in
its own protagonists' worries, mourning, and domestic and private events.
…Her voice and her way of composing stories remain unique.
Melania Mazzucco, La Repubblica
Zeruya Shalev is without doubt the great novelist of Israeli
bourgeois drama. In rich language, seasoned with psychological insights, she
captures the hearts of the readers with tales of a normative family that is
fractured over and over because of a lack of emotional satisfaction … Shalev
writes lush prose ... This novel, like its predecessors, is written in a
realistic style and creates a splendid narrative amplitude … It’s easy to be
swept away into Pain because Shalev is a skilled professional, fully
cognizant of the craft of writing.
Zeruya Shalev does what she does best: telling family tales of
love, of redemption and of disillusion, rich in emotional strength, inviting
the reader to be swallowed up by the story and giving a sense of purification
when it is over … Something in the familiarity of the story and the dramas that
occur in it, and the manner in which it is resolved, creates a sense of
intimacy… The novel celebrates pain and sheds light on its role in emotional
In this book Zeruya Shalev demonstrates again her ability to play
fast and loose with the reader’s expectations … In Shalev’s generous and cruel
treatment, pain and the love of the past are not easily overcome so that the
reader may experience catharsis, but are rather concrete… Shalev demonstrates a
brave and meaningful ability to address pain with such force that the reader
feels as if the world were devoid of everything but pain … She enables readers
to touch their own pain, thereby granting them the most genuine pleasure that literature
The terrible physical pain is joined by spiritual pain … These two types of pain receive Zeruya Shalev’s well-known treatment, which arouses new admiration time and again. In each new book Shalev manages to dismantle human emotions into particles and to touch on exposed nerves.
Zeruya Shalev is the doyenne of female writers in Hebrew today …
Shalev is also the most successful female Hebrew writer abroad, particularly in
France and Germany. It will be interesting to see what becomes of this book and
to what new peaks it will take Shalev once it is translated.
Entering a narrative and emotional arena such as this demands courage…
When Shalev chooses to depict a Jerusalem heroine who has been wounded in a
terrorist bombing, she presents herself as someone writing from the depth of
her heart - a reliable and unpretentious explorer of emotional life.
This lovely novel touches on
different core aspects of life in Israel in the 2000’s. This is a wonderful,
cleansing book. Run and buy it.
Shalev’s fifth novel explores the meaning of living in
Israel. It is her best so far. The book is written with the rare emotional
intensity that Shalev’s prose is known for.
book - in an excellent translation of Mirjam Pressler - (…) wants to be discovered
and explored slowly, it rewards the patience of the audience with amazing insight
into the inner workings of the heroine.
a dramatic Hollywood like trick Shalev combines the physical with the mental worst
Nordwest Zeitung / Ostfriesen Zeitung
the latest work of Israeli author Zeruya Shalev a married woman and survivor of
a terrorist attack meets her old high school sweetheart. She is ready to do and
to risk everything for him.
is as if Zeruya Shalev perfoms magic with her writing. Her words are magic and seem
to have an hypnotic effect when you read them. “Pain” is an extraordinary, poetic
novel, at the end everything turns out differently than you think.
simply knows how to write.
works of Zeruya Shalev always emanate something unswerving, unfaltering, even
obstinate … at first PAIN seems to be a typical Shalev novel. But … this time
it is not only about guilt that accompanies almost every new love among adults
but also about the necessity or even gratification of letting go, of
renunciation. In the end, Iris might prove to be the most mature protagonist
Shalev has created so far.
Powerfully eloquent - no one is capable of putting anger and female
abysses in words like the Israeli Zeruya Shalev. Her new novel PAIN will be
published September 14th – a fierce/severe love story.