Yehudit Hendel's contribution to a growing body of Israeli anti-war literature is set in a Tel Aviv military cemetery one hot August day. While tending the graves of sons, fathers or husbands killed in Israel's five wars, a disparate group meet and talk and the cemetery becomes a blooming garden.
A sense of horror grows with the tiny details: breakfast before setting out for the cemetery, the recurring argument about the height of the flowers, the mother who hates geraniums, someone else who cleans the leaves with a sponge. In the enveloping atmosphere of unease, life between the wars is revealed in the desultory conversations and fragments of memory in which the dead mix with the living.
Yehudit Hendel refuses to write about bereavement in its conventional sense. She prefers to observe the spectrum of human mores in dozens of private rituals of grief.
Using gorgeous visual imagery, Hendel paints an extraordinary sensuous and verbal vista of the gardens. I cannot recall another text that conveys so tangibly the feel of material, color and light, evoking the 'overgrowth' that rises, as it were, out of the dead.
Critic Rina Litwin