Jump to Content

Avner Brenner

Avner Brenner and his friends, Yosef Ehrlich and Amos Fuchs, are students at a religious secondary school where, in 1987, the philosopher Yeshayahu Leibovitz – deeply religious and politically left—arrives to speak to the students. After a series of comic misadventures, he enters the gymnasium to find the body of Tehillah, the vice principal`s daughter, hanging on a rope. It is hard, however, to define Burstein`s first novel either as a mystery story or as a coming of age novel in a school setting. It is a complex intellectual work, evading definition as either realism or fantasy. The plot, moving back and forth in time, contains dramatic events, the first of which is the discovery of the girl`s raped and murdered body. Immediately afterwards, her father has a psychotic seizure and is hospitalized, while Amos Fuchs causes a flood in the school, subsequently called the “Venice Incident”. Avner Brenner finds himself locked in the room of a teacher who jumped to his death a year before, while Yosef Ehrlich, accused of a murdering two Arabs, is sent to jail. The school principal is a mysterious figure who shuts himself up in his study and no one knows what he looks like, while Gertrude, who substitutes for him, is not a Holocaust survivor as most people think, but a German woman who as a child helped her father machine-gun Jews. Kidnapped by a Holocaust survivor, she was brought from France to Israel and grew up in a kibbutz. It was she who had the ring of the school bell replaced by themes from Bach.

The music of famous composers has a central role in the plot. Amos`s parents and Yosef`s mother are musicians. Avner goes to Tel Aviv to hear the first concert of his life, and a spacecraft landing on Triton, one of Neptune`s moon, surprisingly encounters a person listening to classical music there.

Title Avner Brenner
Writer's Last Name Burstein
Writer's First Name Dror
Genre Fiction
Publisher (Hebrew) Babel
No. Pages 248pp.
Book title - Hebrew (phonetic) Avner Brenner