Imagine this wild mix: a bewildered Arab couple, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish family, a stern rabbi, firebrand settlers and a withdrawn adolescent. What Daniella Carmi creates with her bold imagination and surrealistic prose moves crazily between the real and the fantastic, the amusing and tragic—a reflection of Israeli reality. Thus, in the title story, an Arab couple who have waited years for a child finally have an opportunity to adopt one. But the fulfillment of their dream is grotesque—instead of a baby they get a slightly autistic Jewish adolescent who relates to reality only through the Beatles’ songs. And so they are caught up in a psychedelic world of yellow submarines, strawberries and marmalade-colored skies—including a rabbi who insists that the Arab parents coach the boy for his bar mitzvah. In Adina and Marcella Seek a Lifeline, the mothers of two soldiers in a coma fight to save their boys from the “poison” that has taken over their bodies and souls. After they steal urine in the hospital—part of a scheme so the boys never return to the military—a strangely hilarious bond grows between the two very different women, as both struggle for sanity in a world that has turned its back on their sons.
The novel brings together a comedy of manners with a thriller background… [Carmi] draws a picture of the wacky or even Kafkaesque everyday life in her own country, of which fairly little is known [to outsiders].
Here is a novel that oddly makes the reader feel good while telling a truly sad story. This is due largely to the talent of the author who, from a political drama (the treatment of the Arab minority in Israel) and a personal one (the difficult integration of an autistic child into society) made a tale as light and dramatic as a ballad of the Beatles.
An oblique and poetic novel… from a quietly ironic perspective… What Daniella Carmi succeeds in creating, in these very unusual everyday scenes, is nothing less than the literary concentrate of the vibrant, multi-ethnic world of Israel.
An extraordinary, wild mix between a psychedelic tale, a social fantasy, a humoresque and a profound lampoon... Carmi has an original and bold literary voice.
Its uniqueness lies in the humor that Carmi manages to extract from the carnival-like reality in Israel.
There is magic in Carmi's novellas... A grotesque and colorful struggle
that reminds one of a wonderful, sad circus.
English translation of The Yassin Family
available (for publishers only)