Dahlia Ravikovitch, an esteemed and loved Israeli poet, has written wonderful prose as well. The present collection includes short stories written over the years, and develops central themes that occupy the writer as a poet. The typical protagonist is generally a woman or a girl who does not fit into normative social frameworks. She is an exception with a world of her own, and society takes advantage of her weaknesses to repress her physically and spiritually. Some stories may be read as an indictment against such characteristically Israeli frameworks as the kibbutz and the army. Others radiate criticism of universal institutions such as marriage, school, psychiatric hospitals, parenthood and gender inequality.
The Winnie Mandela of the title does not appear in any story. She merely exemplifies a powerful woman protected by a group of loyal men. Rama, whose daughter was taken from her because of her failure as a mother, can only envy Mandela. Rama has no strength to fight the judge, while Nurit cannot fight a whole kibbutz that has made her a scapegoat - an outcast - because she does not adapt to kibbutz work. The psychiatric hospital that Ravikovitch describes so vividly, even humorously, is another restrictive framework with its own rules. Whoever fails to obey them is sent into exile in the closed ward.
Breaking out of the framework and individual self-realization is an act with a time limit: a teacher takes time out and falls asleep in class along with her weary pupils; a married woman decides to leave her husband and daughters and move in with her lover because "he has an electric charge." In the end she will return to her family and the teacher will wake up to finish her teaching.