Omer visits the building where he lived as a child and looks for a spare key to the apartment he grew up in, which still belongs to his family. The apartment has been rented out, and Omer is there to evict the tenant’s ill-mannered boyfriend, Aner, who has barricaded himself inside and refuses to open the door. As Omer knocks at the door of each apartment, trying to locate a
key, a gateway opens up to his childhood, for the people he knew then still live there. The children are now adults, the adults have grown old, and each one has a story that he wants to tell.
The atmosphere of the novel is oddly surrealist, and the people Omer meets are flawed and menacing. His nightmarish ramble from apartment to apartment lasts three days, the bleak uncertain present highlighting the memory of a childhood
that was remarkably innocent, warm and secure. Now, the apartment house feels like
a seething inferno, a disaster zone, and Omer’s journey is
both enjoyable and painful, as he wanders
like sleepwalkers through the shadows of daily life, exposed to old, dark secrets that
lurk beneath the surface. And over it all hovers a
riddle that will be solved at the end, after a surprise discovery in the
In his unique and brilliant style, Schurr takes a
profound look at human life and at the world of writing.
PARTIAL ENGLISH TRANSLATION AVAILABLE (for publishers only).
The dynamic nature of the text is its striking achievement.
There’s something disconcerting about Asaf Schurr’s new book, something creepy-crawly. It is the horror in ordinariness, of which Schurr is one of the more talented documenters in the Hebrew language. It is as if his somewhat odd and unusual books scratch the scabs and abrasions of reality until it is about to bleed.
As in his previous book, it is clear that Schurr’s strength lies in a style that is restrained on the surface yet stormy underneath, writing in which we find darkness but also comical moments, and unexpected intimacy.
This is literature at its finest, and this is already clear by the time you reach page 30…This book is superb…Schurr’s characters pulsate with vitality, and he draws [their] rich world with an artist’s touch. But the backdrop to his realism gradually becomes surreal.
Many readers will feel that the descriptions fit their own story … Schurr’s superb prose is wise without trying to be clever.
The building is a microcosm of Israel … The drab, iconic, nostalgia-evoking, crumbling Israeli building gradually takes on a grotesque, gothic appearance … Fiction that is both youthful and mature, expressing something that is direct and local yet also open to contemporary world literature and experimental writing … Critics see him as a serious literary talent.
The great strength of the book is that it strikes an excellent balance between what is hidden and what is open. Exposure and enclosure … It activates the mind of the reader throughout, in a manner which leaves a taste for more … Schurr captures accurately the tension between urban alienation and togetherness under one roof.
A taut tale, which in the end smacks the reader with a
surprise. Schurr proves that for a book to be good, you need not a great story
but a skillful writer, and he is very skillful indeed.