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Key Money

Eitan Schiffman, an obsessive librarian, spends his life hiding behind bookshelves, convinced that nothing exciting will ever happen to him. And then one day, everything changes. A messenger in orange coveralls comes to his parents’ house and hands them an eviction order. It turns out that a strange family imbroglio is about to dispossess them of their home. Eitan comes to his parents’ rescue and discovers some previously unknown sides of himself. He is also drawn into a romantic relationship for the first time in his life. But center stage in this novel belongs without any doubt to Eitan’s love of books, and it is this love that helps him extricate his family from their problems. He manages to find five extremely valuable books by famous American writers, whose collectible value is equivalent to a small apartment. By surfing the Internet, he then finds a collector who wants to buy these books, flies to New York where he has various adventures, and manages to raise the money to save his home. Along the way, he even flies to Cuba where he assists the dwindling Jewish community.

Yali Sobol draws the plot with a sure hand and gives us wonderful portraits of the characters who people it: of Eitan’s mother, the family breadwinner and a master at resolving stressful situations; of his father, an idealist detached from reality, who is preoccupied with archeological digs and demonstrations against the separation fence; of his sister who connects with the universe through Indian meditation, and his girlfriend who hides behind a mask of sado-masochism. Through the father’s political activities and strong opposition to the separation fence, Key Money also touches on the relation between dispossessor and dispossessed. After saving his parents’ home, Eitan goes to the village of Bil’in on the Palestinian side of the fence and gets a view of both sides. From Bil’in, he sees Tel Aviv through Palestinian eyes, and at the same time he feels love for the city that is his home.

Title Key Money
Writer's Last Name Sobol
Writer's First Name Yali
Genre Fiction
Publisher (Hebrew) Zmora-Bitan
No. Pages 235pp.
Book title - Hebrew (phonetic) Dmei Mafteach
  • “ Yali Sobol’s creative and upbeat Hebrew takes [the hero] to another place and forces him to really live. Key Money is [the sort of] book that takes place when reality is tired of you and decides to punch you in the face. ”

    Yedioth Ahronoth
  • “ Rhythmic and flowing… There is something refreshing in Sobol’s denial of the cynical bon-ton of some of our young prose writers. ”

  • “ This book… slides into our consciousness without any effort and leads the reader pleasurably on towards its conclusion… Yali Sobol is off on the right road that leads to the great cathedral called literature. ”