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Land upon an Ongoing Tale

At age 48, Marcel Ben-Hammo still doesn’t know what to do with his life. He lives alone in temporary lodgings, estranged from his father and especially from his sister, who is bringing up his six-year-old son on her own. Now he goes back to revisit places where he had found the intensity of life in unexpected, dramatic and at times bizarre situations. Setting out from northern Israel and traveling south, his journey is mostly to locations on the sidelines, places that Hebrew literature tends to ignore. Marcel wants to find out what has changed and whether he could find a new beginning in any of these places. The events in the past offered him life choices that he avoided, daunting as well as attractive possibilities that he was afraid to embrace. For example, he wanders around a community where the parents of a girl he was once going to marry lived; he visits the grave of his mother, who died when he was a year old; he recalls Lufti, an Arab construction worker with whom he had a close and passionate relationship. But he cannot find himself. Meanwhile, he disfigures himself, cutting himself with a knife at each stop and deriving masochistic pleasure from it.

Berdugo’s travel literature is excitingly different – engrossing and unique in its observations and in the existential questions it poses. Electrifying Hebrew prose of a kind that only Berdugo can produce.

Title Land upon an Ongoing Tale
Writer's Last Name Berdugo
Writer's First Name Sami
Genre Fiction
Publisher (Hebrew) Hakibbutz Hameuchad
No. Pages 253pp.
Book title - Hebrew (phonetic) Sipur Hoveh Al Pnei Ha-Eretz
  • “Through his unique, ascetic and pain-filled style, the narrator rubs against bare flesh … and gives his readers an intensive and challenging reading experience … Out of fragility and frugality, there emerges a great narrative … The character is heart-wrenching.”

    The Kugel Prize Committee
  • “ Original linguistic combinations that surprise and create a theoretical language that is unique on the Israeli literary scene. ”

    The Sapir Prize Committee, January 2016
  • “A daring and irrepressible writer … Berdugo creates a new and musical world ... Its main strength is the way that Berdugo uses language to create a parallel reality … To enter Berdugo's linguistic world is like flying in a Starship Enterprise, made of words, to a place which human imagination has not yet mapped.”

    Amichai Shalev, Ynet
  • “ Berdugo has a distinctive voice, a language all his own that does not submit to the spirit of the time.”