Home  \  Authors  \  Authors  \  Zeruya Shalev  \ 


Zeruya Shalev

"GOLDEN" BOOK 2016 - More than 20,000 copies sold in Israel

Ten years after she was seriously injured in a terrorist attack, the pain comes back to torment Iris, the heroine of Zeruya Shalev’s new novel. But that is not all: Eitan, the love of her youth also comes back into her life. And although their relationship ended many years ago, she was more deeply wounded when he left her than by the suicide bomber who blew himself up next to her.
Iris’s marriage is stalled. Her two children have grown up and are almost independent; she herself has become a dedicated, successful school principal. But now, after years of living without passion and joy, Eitan brings them back into her life. Unhappily, she must concoct all sorts of lies to conceal her love from her family, and the lies become more and more complicated. But can one ever restore the love of one’s youth?
Iris is in an impossible predicament, and in order to decide she tries to fathom whether her love with Eitan can heal all her pain, and more essentially, whether in the process she would have to hurt the people who are closest to her.


A great book, that ends with a therapeutic catharsis.

Author Amos Oz


The original, complex and subversive nature of Shalev’s new novel emerges when we examine the way she treats the issue of pain in its literary-national context … Shalev submits to familiar paths in order to disrupt them from the inside and to change their direction and their destination. And she does this like a virtuoso, soaring but also meticulous, on the levels of both the structure and the style, as befits a great writer.

Prof. Yigal Schwartz, Haaretz

Intense, clever, funny, absolutely remarkable… A great love story… A masterpiece. It’s an outstanding book, clever, subtle.

Michel Crépu for “Le Masque et La Plume”, Radio France Inter

Written in one breath… Under cover of the intimate there is a political message.


Zeruya Shalev does not merely weave a variation on the eternal dilemma between heart and reason. This captivating novel, between suffering and grace, is also a brilliant reflection on the dominance of the past over the present, of the ideal over the real, of the couple over the individual. It resonates like an allegory of Israel, the duty and destiny for its hectic children.



“Pain” is a book that is both totally universal and absolutely feminine… Zeruya Shalev writes in a superb language.

Le Figaro Magazine

For the Israeli novelist, writing is first of all listening to her characters. "Pain” is an admirable testament to that…  It is, among a thousand other things, an astonishing reflection on second chances and on obsession with the past.

Le Monde

Great literary pleasure… [Shalev’s] fifth novel confirms once again the immense talent of this writer. Intense and masterful…  And this is the strength of Zeruya Shalev, to steer her narrative ceaselessly towards new horizons.

La Semaine

A majestic novel… Zeruya Shalev knows how to paint gracefully the fragility of a family, and of love.


Incredibly intimate…Rare and difficult as all that is beautiful.


Great Israeli author… [This book is] a turning point in her career.
The wizard that is Zeruya Shalev transforms unresolved mourning and unrecognized wounds into a rebirth.

Livres Hebdo

We are shaken and fascinated at the same time, dazzled by the masterful narration of this major writer.


A great book that speaks about pain, terrorism and the state called Israel… Magnificent. 


From the great Israeli writer, a novel that searches through the cracks in our souls. The quest for the origin of unhappiness.

Elena Stancanelli, D la Repubblica

In an ironic paradox (this magnificent book is full of irony), it is pain that induces Iris to open the drawers that have been locked for too many years. …Shalev writes in a free, sensual, impetuous, sometimes excessive manner… Convalescence (the end of pain) makes existence full and delicious.

Corriere della Sera

As a true archaeologist of the soul, Zeruya Shalev does neglects no thought.

La Stampa

[Shalev's] fiction is within the best Israeli contemporary novel tradition that […] almost always circumvents and circumnavigates the country's political situation, preferring to reflect it in its own protagonists' worries, mourning, and domestic and private events.

…Her voice and her way of composing stories remain unique.

Melania Mazzucco, La Repubblica


Zeruya Shalev is without a doubt the great novelist of Israeli bourgeois drama. In rich language, seasoned with psychological insights, she captures the hearts of the readers with tales of a normative family that is fractured over and over because of a lack of emotional satisfaction … Shalev writes lush prose ... This novel, like its predecessors, is written in a realistic style and creates a splendid narrative amplitude … It’s easy to be swept away into Pain because Shalev is a skilled professional, fully cognizant of the craft of writing.


Zeruya Shalev does what she does best: telling family tales of love, of redemption and of disillusion, rich in emotional strength, inviting the reader to be swallowed up by the story and giving a sense of purification when it is over … Something in the familiarity of the story and the dramas that occur in it, and the manner in which it is resolved, creates a sense of intimacy… The novel celebrates pain and sheds light on its role in emotional life. 



In this book Zeruya Shalev demonstrates again her ability to play fast and loose with the reader’s expectations … In Shalev’s generous and cruel treatment, pain and the love of the past are not easily overcome so that the reader may experience catharsis, but are rather concrete… Shalev demonstrates a brave and meaningful ability to address pain with such force that the reader feels as if the world were devoid of everything but pain … She enables readers to touch their own pain, thereby granting them the most genuine pleasure that literature can bestow. 


The terrible physical pain is joined by spiritual pain … These two types of pain receive Zeruya Shalev’s well-known treatment, which arouses new admiration time and again. In each new book Shalev manages to dismantle human emotions into particles and to touch on exposed nerves. 

Yedioth Ahronoth

Zeruya Shalev is the doyenne of female writers in Hebrew today … Shalev is also the most successful female Hebrew writer abroad, particularly in France and Germany. It will be interesting to see what becomes of this book and to what new peaks it will take Shalev once it is translated.



Entering a narrative and emotional arena such as this demands courage… When Shalev chooses to depict a Jerusalem heroine who has been wounded in a terrorist bombing, she presents herself as someone writing from the depth of her heart - a reliable and unpretentious explorer of emotional life. 

Yedioth Ahronoth

This lovely novel touches on different core aspects of life in Israel in the 2000’s. This is a wonderful, cleansing book. Run and buy it.


Shalev’s fifth novel explores the meaning of living in Israel. It is her best so far. The book is written with the rare emotional intensity that Shalev’s prose is known for.
Der Spiegel

The book - in an excellent translation of Mirjam Pressler -  (…) wants to be discovered and explored slowly, it rewards the patience of the audience with amazing insight into the inner workings of the heroine.

Münchner Merkur 

With a dramatic Hollywood like trick Shalev combines the physical with the mental worst case scenario.

Nordwest Zeitung / Ostfriesen Zeitung


In the latest work of Israeli author Zeruya Shalev a married woman and survivor of a terrorist attack meets her old high school sweetheart. She is ready to do and to risk everything for him.


It is as if Zeruya Shalev perfoms magic with her writing. Her words are magic and seem to have an hypnotic effect when you read them. “Pain” is an extraordinary, poetic novel, at the end everything turns out differently than you think.


Shalev simply knows how to write.

The works of Zeruya Shalev always emanate something unswerving, unfaltering, even obstinate … at first PAIN seems to be a typical Shalev novel. But … this time it is not only about guilt that accompanies almost every new love among adults but also about the necessity or even gratification of letting go, of renunciation. In the end, Iris might prove to be the most mature protagonist Shalev has created so far.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Powerfully eloquent - no one is capable of putting anger and female abysses in words like the Israeli Zeruya Shalev. Her new novel PAIN will be published September 14th – a fierce/severe love story.



An immense novel.

Author Leila Slimani


Shalev’s writing manages to grasp everything… [a novel of] impressive power.

Le Monde


A captivating novel, between suffering and grace.



From the great Israeli writer, a novel that searches through the cracks in our souls.

La Repubblica


A magnificent book…full of irony.

Corriere della Sera


Shalev’s fifth novel…and her best so far.

Der Spiegel


Shalev’s finest novel since Love Life.

Süddeutschen Zeitung

Title Pain
Author’s Last Name Shalev
Author's First Name Zeruya
Language(s) Hebrew, German, French, Italian, Dutch, Polish, Romanian
Genre novel
Publisher (Hebrew) Keter
Year of Publication (Hebrew) 2015
No. Pages 287 pp.
Book title - Hebrew (phonetic) Ke'ev
Representation Represented by ITHL


German: Berlin, Berlin Verlag, 2015

French: Paris, Gallimard, 2017; pb, Folio, 2018

Polish: Warsaw, WAB, 2016

Romanian: Bucharest, Polirom, 2016

Dutch: Amsterdam, Cossee, 2016

Italian: Milan, Feltrinelli, 2016

Chinese: Beijing, People's Literature, forthcoming

Portuguese: Portugal, 2020/Elsinore, 2019

Russian: Moscow Sinbad, forthcoming

English: New York, Other Press, 2019

Lithuanian: Vilnius, Sofoklis, 2019

Czech: Prague, Prah,2021

Turkish: Istanbul, Alkarga,2022

Bulgarian: Plovdiv, Janet 45, forthcoming

Italian: Milan, Feltrinelli,2022

Romanian: Bucharest, Humanitas,2022

Spanish: Barcelona, Acantilado, forthcoming

Albanian: Tirana, Ombra, forthcoming



Read more