Although these superb stories are rooted in the sometimes brutal Israeli reality (such as the War in Lebanon), veiled and restrained human kindness is the subject of this collection. Unheroic people living humdrum lives try to break out of closed, unchangeable worlds. They fail in the attempt, but at the center of the event there is always a hesitant, stammering effort to make contact, to create closeness. The effort is rarely completed, for even in the flatness of Koren's world, life holds terrible surprises.
"Between the Fences" is the story of a soldier who tries to get away from his army base to see his girlfriend, and the parallel story of the Bedouin who hitches a ride with him. Sudden torrential rain sweeps the car into a wadi. The soldier is rescued; the Bedouin is carried to his death. "It doesn't matter," says the driver of the car. "It was impossible to save them both." The story "Shreider's Sabbath Suit" tells of drugs, theft and murder; "The Umbrella in the Picture" is about Levana's pregnancy and abortion. Whether the stories are sensational or simply small moments of insight, Koren maintains his laconic voice. Feeling is hidden behind brusqueness and aggression; kindness is embedded in brutality.
These stories have a shattering effect.
Critic Menahem Perry
Koren's fiction is highly praiseworthy. The publication of these short stories is one of the most remarkable events on the Israeli literary scene in the past year.
Critic Anat Feinberg
Selected stories available in English translation (for publishers only)