Set in Tel Aviv and Paris, a powerful story of love, friendship, regret and war, as current as today’s headlines. Ronit Matalon’s fiction has been praised as “haunting,” “inventive,” “refreshingly daring.” In her graceful, illuminating second novel, she tells a provocative story of two loves, two partings, two worlds, two women: Ofra and Sarah.
When Ofra is called from Tel Aviv to France to attend the funeral of her beloved cousin Michel, she escapes a life lived vicariously through Sarah, her oldest friend, a photographer and political activist. In Paris, Ofra enters the embrace of her French family and the intimate world of domestic life, while Sarah, in Tel Aviv, drifts ever further from her husband, Udi. Drawn to a Palestinian nationalist, she takes on the fight for a girl from Gaza who has been injured by an Israeli bullet and needs medical treatment that can only be had inside Israel. As Sarah adopts the cause with near-destructive zeal and pledges herself to the suffering of others, her own child goes untended, with dreadful consequences for all.
Against a backdrop of national conflict, the novel confronts the terrible dilemma of choosing between one’s desires and one’s beliefs, between grand ideological commitment and the more mundane claims of family. With vivid, penetrating prose, Matalon has delivered a large and resonant work that is as artful as it is affecting.
Matalon’s finely calibrated prose, cosmopolitan outlook and nuanced perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict give the novel a sophisticated grace.
A tautly written and highly charged Israeli novel… One of Matalon’s many achievements is to twist a steely link between Israel’s two pains: those it inflicts and those it suffers.
New York Times
An exquisitely compelling novel. Matalon captures the immediacy of contemporary Israeli reality.