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English translation available (for publishers only)


Avshalom, a young Israeli doing his military service, goes AWOL, burns his uniform and hides out in an retirement home in Jerusalem. He feels burnt out, trapped–the memory of a violent clash with Palestinians in Hebron doesn’t let him rest. As he sees it, it’s not only his problem–there’s something gnawing away at Israeli society and culture in general, as if some disease were spreading beneath the surface. And he knows that he will have to choose: either to stay and accept, or leave the country and try to start afresh elsewhere. So he travels to Paris to get away from Israel and write a book. He rents a studio apartment, registers at the university, looks for a job and even meets a German girl, like him a foreigner. But it doesn’t help, he falls into loneliness and despair. For in Paris, he still feels surrounded by evil and cruelty: the bleeding “Israeli wound” and his traumatic experience remain with him. He also sees no point in writing. Should literature still be written? Can it offer salvation? Only at the end, when again he reaches the end of the road, does he manage to free himself, spread his wings and soar. But it may be too late.

Rowner’s powerful, unsettling novel is written as a feverish monologue, full of honesty and madness. One reads it with bated breath. And although it takes place in a European city, it is an Israeli book in the fullest sense of the word.

Title Deserter
Writer's Last Name Rowner
Writer's First Name Ilai
Genre Fiction
Publisher (Hebrew) Yedioth Ahronoth
No. Pages 205pp.
Book title - Hebrew (phonetic) Arik
  • “Rowner’s Deserter hews a clean and distinct cut in the cultural and literary continuum, between its appearance and everything that preceded it. It thereby positions itself as the book of an era, the herald of things to come … Every few years this happens. A book comes out that redefines the coordinates for the constellation known as “Hebrew Literature” ”

    Orian Morris, Haaretz
  • “This is how great writers are born: Deserters is a flawless first novel … A model of sensitivity, freshness, and a unique, unforgettable voice … It is rare to come across so unique a voice … It is very easy to identify with the hero of Deserter … Everything is meticulous, everything is special, everything feels organic … For literature like this there has never been so great a need.”

    Nimrod Ofran, Walla
  • “This is almost not a book, but a film, with almost all of it visual and believable and with that, also entirely imaginary. ”

    Benny Ziffer, Haaretz
  • “Rowner’s deserter – a stormy, defiant, delusional type – is somewhat reminiscent of the enraged prophet, of the stupidity and urban desolation of Scorsese’s Taxi Driver … He scrutinizes the city and himself in a manner that is no less hostile, holds the culture he belongs to in violent and utter contempt … Deserter may mark the extreme point in the process undergone by the Israeli soldier in literature … It actually corresponds with literature that is not Israeli – with the great critical novels of the early 20th century. ”