Where Am I chronicles the picaresque and fantastic passage of a nameless 40-year-old divorcee through a crass, materialistic society. This is not the intimate, parochial Tel Aviv of Yaakov Shabtai, but an alienating metropolis; a shrill, false world lightened only by the heroine's wild collages of fantasy.
This heroine ("I am bored and boring, frivolous and empty") has no skills or will and lives on the verge of vagrancy, recounting bizarre exchanges with other marginal figures or with the establishment, here shown as a stern, moneyed "united front" beyond her reach. After a visiting "star" sitting on the edge of her bed stops her from stabbing her second husband, the heroine tries to make a living as a typist, then by mending fishing nets. All the while she develops a glossy, furry down that grows in abundance, which other people find alarming.
She meets an intelligence agent masquerading as an antique dealer at the Japanese-style mansion of a friend who spits at her Filipino maids, a milieu in which everyone speaks in the grotesque anglicized Hebrew of the Tel Aviv nouveau riche. The encounters are in fact mundane but take place in the terrifying-hilarious atmosphere of a hall of mirrors. Pretensions are stretched to the ridiculous and the banal becomes either magical or chilling. The mechanical delivery of this portrait of modern life in Tel Aviv provokes both laughter and discomfort.
No other writer of her generation is as interesting....Nobody today writes like Orly Castel-Bloom. There is in her work a shout of resistance, a scorn for social norms and public taste... Outstanding.
Critic Dan Miron
A novel of Joycean insolence... of tonal and stylistic inventiveness.... A beautiful book whose nonconformism is a delight.
Who before her dared to write like this? It might seem easy to write like Orly Castel-Bloom, because her language is not complex, but what she does in Where Am I is so sophisticated that you cannot read her books just once.