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Past Continuous

Past Continuous depicts the crises in the lives of three Israeli men – Goldman, Israel and Caesar – as they attempt to focus their lives and to extract some meaning from chaos. The book opens with Goldman’s suicide, which triggers innumerable flashbacks to the events that led up to it. Shabtai’s subtle stream of consciousness technique draws us into an endless morass of family tangles and social exhaustion – wives and ex-wives, passing mistresses and crushing marriages, desperate intrigues and disappointments, the loss of children, friends, ideals – and back again to the lives of Goldman and his father, constantly moving between the living past and the dead present, as though there were not much difference between them. At times it appears that the real protagonist of the book is the city of Tel Aviv – its landscape, its idiosyncratic atmosphere and its history.

Chinese, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Turkish
Title Past Continuous
Writer's Last Name Shabtai
Writer's First Name Yaakov
Genre Fiction
Publisher (Hebrew) Hakibbutz Hameuchad
No. Pages 282pp.
Book title - Hebrew (phonetic) Zichron Dvarim
  • “ Yaakov Shabtai belongs to that rare category of authors whose oeuvre is small but brilliant and incomparably splendid. His images become engraved in our memory and will not leave. ”

    Le Monde
  • “ A portrait of contemporary Israeli society that is, to my mind, the most prodigious (and probably realistic) yet in Hebrew fiction....[It] is a portrait with Balzacian breadth.”

    The New York Times
  • “ Past Continuous is extraordinary. ”