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Three Floors Up [The Reasonable Person]

Eshkol Nevo


"What was I trying to do? Just protect my women," Arnon Levanoni says heatedly to his friend, a successful writer. The two are in a restaurant, Arnon pouring out his heart and confessing his sins in a lengthy monologue. He is Israeli macho, aggressive and possessive, and his jealousy for his little daughter Ofri has made him lose control. When he becomes suspicious that his neighbor has sexually molested Ofri, he attacks him, and the man is hospitalized. But Arnon gets into more trouble - with the neighbor’s young granddaughter, who is now threatening to destroy Arnon’s marriage in revenge. Arnon and his family live in a quiet middle-class neighborhood. Above them lives Hani Doron, known as "the widow" - her husband is often away on business, and she lives shut-off with her two children. After her brother in-law, in trouble with loan sharks and the police, comes to hide out with her, their happy interlude together seem no more than a figment of her imagination. On the top floor lives a genuine widow: former judge Devorah Edelman, who dreams at night that her super ego is being amputated. Now retired, Devorah is trying to start a new life and joins a social protest movement. But can she reconnect with her estranged son? Will Hani Doron overcome her problems? Can Arnon save his marriage?
The three floors of the house in Nevo’s novel reflect the tripartite Freudian model of the id, the ego and the superego. With insight and humor, Nevo lays bare the failures and psychoses that underlie the placid surface of the Israeli bourgeoisie, and gives us a gripping novel.



Nevo’s narrators range from despicable to endearing, and he handles each with a sure hand, resulting in a multifaceted narrative that is easy to be carried away by.

Publishers Weekly


Eshkol Nevo, in his astoundingly moving new book, Three Floors Up, brilliantly captures how the landscape of a marriage can become tenuous and dark while parents struggle with children who seem to need a little extra help. His three loosely interwoven stories take place in an upper-middle-class apartment building in Tel Aviv where neighbors observe one another quietly, grappling with their own growing desperation.

Jerusalem Post

Nevo (Neuland, 2014, etc.) is a bestselling Israeli author, and his most recent book to be translated into English makes it easy to understand why. His writing is compelling...[he] is a funny, engaging writer.

Kirkus Reviews



Over the last year and change I’ve been thinking a lot about the ways in which social and political ills play out in the very real people that surround me in my daily life. Reading this book and witnessing its fictional characters navigate what I feel myself to be navigating, but from the safe remove of fiction, space, time, language, and culture, I found myself feeling calmer if not entirely more hopeful. If that’s the medicine Nevo is dealing, it’s still the one I took away. Silverston’s translation is so impeccable as to be invisible.

Words without Borders Magazine


Best-selling Israeli novelist Nevo, his Hebrew fluidly translated by Sondra Silverston, cleverly infuses these quotidian albeit schadenfreude-inducing dramas with numerology (“everything is in threes”), Freudian analysis (the “three floors up” of id, ego, superego), the power of secrets (plus the greater threat of revenge), and the literary necessity for confessions (“if there is no one to listen–there is no story”).

Booklist Magazine


Yet none of these distractions will slow down the reader. On the contrary, Nevo’s talent for embedding telling character traits and cultural anecdotes through quick one-liners is perhaps his greatest asset. The prose sings in places, and “Three Floors Up” is difficult to put down.



Smart and absorbing… Nevo shows us life’s complexities in a thoroughly satisfying read.

Library Journal


Israeli author Eshkol Nevo’s novel explores the social and cultural fabric of Israel through three tenants on three separate floors of an apartment building in Tel Aviv. Their individual stories and struggles are braided together with tight, terse prose, forming a cohesive picture of the broader society in which they reside

World Literature Today

A brilliant novelist, Eshkol Nevo vividly depicts the grinding effects of social and political ills played out in the psyche of these flawed, compelling characters, often in unexpected and explosive ways.


Lively, tripartite novel by Eshkol Nevo, a highly admired Israeli author…Nevo creates three compulsive narrators, three unsparingly candid monologues, three stories that expose the psyches of people caught at critical points in their lives…Perceptive and compelling, Three Floors Up plays with the form of the novel itself and keeps the reader absorbed in its sets of triads.

Jewish Book Council 

Three Floors Up by Israeli novelist Eshkol Nevo offers an intriguing and layered view into life in Tel Aviv. The novel centers on three families living on separate floors of an apartment building on the outskirts of the city. Through the lives and interwoven stories of the three families, Nevo presents a broad and complex portrait of Israeli society.

Signature Reads

As many other Israeli writers, Nevo is a soliloquy master. In this new novel, Three Floors Up displays it with the usual lightness and courage. Nevo's strength is in his voices. With admirable mimetic talent, with tender empathy, he is a genius in making his characters speak, in distinguishing one from the other, in isolating them, in understanding them intimately.

La Lettura, Corriere Della Sera


Among all the Israeli writers of the new generation, Nevo is the most traditional in the best sense of the term: he adheres to the canon of the novel, yet it transforms when combined with his skillful writing and ability to hold together a composite and intricate plot such as the one of Three Floors Up.

La Stampa


Nevo is able, with that forever young-man rhythm and language, to reveal the Israeli kaleidoscope.

La Repubblica


Three Floors Up is a novel in which the souls lay bare revealing hidden secrets, indescribable faults, ancient pain, and human fragility. In Israel that is stunned by jasmine perfume and besieged by the desert these characters are intoxicated by passions and encircled by sand.



Three Floors Up is not simply a book, a symbol, a voyage, an allegory, an exegesis of fear. It is, literally, a scintillating, essential miracle.


There’s a rare degree of daring, even self-exposure in the novel … [it] deals with the dark aspects of Israeli parenthood … Nevo abstains from reliance on the sensationalist aspect of the stories that he unfolds … Precisely through his sweetness he is capable of trying silent voices, engulfed in loneliness, frustration and guilt, that should be made to speak, the time has come for them to be heard.



A terrifying allegory on our deepest fears and the heavy price we will pay for the indulgence and egoism that blind us … Three Floors Up reveals an Eshkol Nevo who is better than ever … a trenchant social critic, who places before us a cruel mid-life picture. There’s not too much compassion here, no geniality and no caresses. But precisely because of this, you simply have to read this new Eshkol Nevo.    

Yedioth Ahronoth


This novel’s simple, flowing and engrossing language enables its complex theme to reach many readers, because there is something very accessible about it … Nevo demonstrates integrity and courage in this book.



Three Floors Up is Eshkol Nevo’s bungee jump … [It] is a punch to the belly … If in his first four novels he has exposed his inner world in a delicate and lengthy surgical process, using a lancet, this time he has wielded an ax … The beauty of the characters lies in their courage in dealing with their feelings, even if they aren’t particularly noble … Nevo seems to have shed inhibitions that have encumbered his writing until now ... It is difficult to overlook the courage required by the move that he has made.       

Maariv NRG

Eshkol Nevo is perhaps the only young writer in Israel who has built up a relationship with a large public of readers who like his writing and look forward to his books. His new book hit the top of the bestseller lists just about a moment after it came off the press… This book … is a bold move. In my opinion it fixes Nevo’s place as a significant author … In this book, Nevo’s nice, congenial language is only bait that deceives the reader and leads him into a dark world … A meaningful work of literature … that leaves its mark.  


Eshkol Nevo’s new book is the most powerful literary experience I have had this year. Try it, you won’t be sorry.

TV Anchor Guy Meroz


This is Eshkol Nevo in a nutshell: He writes with such precision that one feels that instead of a pen and paper he is using a needle and thread.



This is classic Eshkol Nevo … and at the same time it is an Eshkol Nevo who dares to go further, deeper and darker … If you have ever read a book by Nevo, you’ll recall his enormous talent as a story teller and an accurate documenter of Israeli-ness halfway to wherever we are going; also his characters' tendency to be more or less amazing. 

Yedioth Ahronoth

As can be expected from Eshkol Nevo, after a pile of bestsellers, all the stories are riveting, well written, engrossing, and take us to surprising places … Another deserving bestseller for the collection.


It’s hard to find a gift for people who have everything, but Eshkol Nevo’s new book is a choice that it’s difficult to pass over. It’s a sweeping novel that is accessible to a broad variety of audiences. 

In Three Floors Up Eshkol Nevo is seen at his best ... This is a light, amusing  book … and the author’s writing pleasure is conveyed directly to the reader … The book is evidence that Nevo has undergone a process of maturation, learning, and internalization.



Title Three Floors Up [The Reasonable Person]
Author’s Last Name Nevo
Author's First Name Eshkol
Language(s) Hebrew, English, German, French, Italian, Greek, Romanian
Genre novel
Publisher (Hebrew) Kinneret, Zmora-Bitan
Year of Publication (Hebrew) 2015
No. Pages 272 pp.
Book title - Hebrew (phonetic) Shalosh Komot
Representation Represented by ITHL


English: New York, Other Press, 2017; Prince Frederick MD, Highbridge, 2017 (audio)
French: Paris, Gallimard, 2018

German: Munich, dtv, 2018
Greek: Athens, 
Kastaniotis, 2017
Italian: Milan, Neri Pozza, 2017
Romanian: Bucharest, Humanitas, 2017

Spanish: Barcelona, Duomo, 2019

Russian: Moscow, Sinbad, 2019

Serbian: Zrenjanin, Agora, forthcoming 

Ukranian: Kharkiv, Folio, forthcoming