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Outwardly, it is impossible to guess that Grisha, a plump, quiet man who lives with his mother in an apartment in a crumbling project, has been reincarnated from body to body, from country to country, from century to century. But the lives he lived 400 years ago in a remote shtetl in Eastern Europe, in 18th century Venice, and 100 years later in Morocco, have left their marks and scars on him.

Grisha is perhaps the most truthful liar you have even come across, but even so no one seems to believe him. Perhaps he doesn’t even believe himself. His mother will tell you that the reincarnation of souls is total nonsense. From her point of view, “There is only one life. All the rest is metaphor.” All through Souls, Grisha and his mother fight mercilessly for the heart of the reader. But who will triumph—the soul or the body; fantasy or reality; mother or son, or the holy spirit?

Souls is a dizzying, brilliant carnival; a virtuoso novel that skips between eras and styles but is so entrenched in the Jewish roots of the author that it almost hurts. It is a novel that deals with the deceptive flexibility of the human soul and the desperate yearning for meaning, or at least for one small soul that will understand us.

Italian, Russian
Title Souls
Writer's Last Name Chen
Writer's First Name Roy
Genre Fiction
Publisher (Hebrew) Keter
No. Pages 325pp.
Book title - Hebrew (phonetic) Neshamot
  • “A remarkable work of literature, fast flowing, cabaret-like, and brilliant. It is glowing, exciting and effortless. Reading it is a like being on a dizzying roller-coaster ride in scenery that skillfully combines emotion and Jewish humor.”

  • “Overflowing with literary tricks and kaleidoscopic games that present a different picture and new characters at every twist.”

    Makor Rishon
  • “Why the hell didn’t I think of this story? Perhaps I will in my next incarnation.”

    Author Meir Shalev
  • “Amazing novel... hymn to the power of literature and theater”