Mourning is a fascinating novel which functions on various levels. On its most basic level, it opens the door to a previously locked and therefore deeply mysterious world, that of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish society in Israel. With great skill, the novel unfolds an unerring portrait of the customs and norms of this rigid society; from the man in the street to its schools and religious seminaries. Against this backdrop, the reader meets young Shlomit (nicknamed Fifi), whose family was originally less fanatically religious. As the family moves to Bnei Brak, the stronghold of the ultra-religious community, Fifi's father becomes progressively more extreme. Fifi is boxed into a society which prohibits reading fine literature and going to films. Her adolescence is fired by a fierce desire for independence, as she grows up fighting against the restrictive lifestyle in which she has been placed. Unconventionally, Fifi chooses her own bridegroom, a brilliant seminary student named Natan. Her inner confusion is revealed in her mistaken and tragic choice; Natan is too obsessed with his unrelenting piety and studies to pay any attention to Fifi's needs. Following the accepted norm, she frustratedly serves and supports him so that he may be free to study, undisturbed. But their mutual and profound alienation climaxes in tragedy.
A book of great intensity and extraordinary depth.
Here the pain is real, the story is true, and the writing able. Mourning is a book that arouses deep feelings of identity.
Read and re-read it, because its pages contain innovative language and ancient Hebrew in symbiosis - both in unity and in a sequence of contrasts.
English translation available (for publishers only)