This is the story of a boy`s twisted adolescence in a neglected area of south Tel Aviv, where the younger generation is called the "Children of the intifada". Eli, at 15 and a half, suffers from overweight. He lives with his mother Sima, an irritable and vengeful former drug addict, whose ex-husband calls her Medea. He, Eli`s father Yom Tov, is an artist with leftist views, an eccentric figure in the neighborhood where some residents earn their livelihood by quite dubious means. Eli, an avid reader, prefers to live with his father but his mother will not give him up, so he must bear the unwelcome presence of Yefet, his stepfather, a garbage collector who has done time for a murder committed in his youth.
Busi creates a novel that is at once very funny and deeply stirring, an Israeli "West Side Story," as it were, making brilliant use of material from television romances and detective novels. Yom Tov, from Iraq, draws a series of Holocaust pictures in which he identifies totally with a Warsaw Jew murdered in Treblinka. He is at long last recognized by the establishment and his pictures are shown in a prestigious Tel Aviv gallery. His son Eli falls in love with Anna, a young beauty from Russia who is offered a part in a movie, an offer not to be refused. Eli in his delight is determined to lose weight, but his mother and stepfather do whatever they can to make his life a misery. His first sexual experience is with his mother, following which he tries to take his own life. He lets Yefet know that Sima has been unfaithful and brings about the death of a Russian youth who tried to rape Anna. Eli suffers a break down, is hospitalized in a psychiatric ward, is discharged and descends into addiction. His mother kills herself and Anna leaves him. At 21 he learns to forgive and to turn over a new leaf.
Busi has done it again! A Noble Savage is fun to read, there’s never a dull moment, he writes in vivid and animated language, and it is outrageously funny. It is also a clever novel.
An enthralling book, I couldn’t put it down for a minute.
Busi has narrative vigor and a delicate sensitivity that evokes tears.
English translation available (for publishers only)