This novel examines Israel`s fragile identity and the discrimination that still cuts through it. Iraqi immigrants Nazima and Rahamim waited 14 years for the birth of their son Ovadia, but the joy of his arrival is soon replaced by bitter disappointment. Ovadia does not meet his parents` expectations; he rebels against them and is ashamed of their Iraqi culture. Turning to the more European-Ashkenazi culture of Zionism, he joins the left-wing Hashomer Hatza`ir youth movement and serves as an officer in the paratroops. But towards the end of his military service, he realizes that his escape into Zionism is futile: the Ashkenazi world doesn`t let him forget his origins. Burdened by anger and humiliation, he decides to go to Germany. There, in the country symbolizing the depth of European Jewry`s trauma, he seeks both a new start in life and revenge against the society that rejected him.
Eight years later, after losing all the money he has made in Germany, Ovadia agrees to return to Israel. His parents tempt him by telling him they have converted his father`s Iraqi cafe into a shoe store that he will run. However, when he arrives he discovers that this was a lie and the reunion turns into a confrontation. Ovadia wants his father to demolish the cafe and the conflict that erupts opens up all the issues that were swept under the carpet for years. Through the voices of Rahamim, Nazima and Ovadia, the author exposes some of Israeli society`s festering wounds. As Ovadia and Rahamim fight, each one defending his honor, the character of the mother, Nazima, deepens and becomes more prominent. Nazima, who rebelled against her parents by marrying the impoverished Rahamim instead of her wealthy uncle, still makes sacrifices for him and gives up her own wishes. Yet her unswerving devotion to her family in the face of violence no longer appears as weakness; in fact, it is a response from strength. And this together with the boundless love she expresses make her an unforgettable figure.
[This book] steals your heart, and squeezes and crushes it as well. When that happens, all that remains after wiping away the tears, is to give Busi a standing ovation.
Dudu Busi’s latest book is like a time bomb, made up of the most sensitive social explosives… Busi writes from the heart without faking it.
An original and moving document.
English translation available (for publishers only)