At age 48, Marcel Ben-Hammo still doesn’t know what to
do with his life. He lives alone in temporary lodgings, estranged from his father
and especially from his sister, who is bringing up his six-year-old son on her
own. Now he goes back to revisit places where he had found the intensity of
life in unexpected, dramatic and at times bizarre situations. Setting out from
northern Israel and traveling south, his journey is mostly to locations on the
sidelines, places that Hebrew literature tends to ignore. Marcel wants to find
out what has changed and whether he could find a new beginning in any of these
places. The events in the past offered him life choices that he avoided,
daunting as well as attractive possibilities that he was afraid to embrace. For
example, he wanders around a community where the parents of a girl he was once
going to marry lived; he visits the grave of his mother, who died when he was a
year old; he recalls Lufti, an Arab construction worker with whom he had a
close and passionate relationship. But he cannot find himself. Meanwhile, he
disfigures himself, cutting himself with a knife at each stop and deriving
masochistic pleasure from it.
Berdugo's travel literature is excitingly different - engrossing
and unique in its observations and in the existential questions it poses. Electrifying
Hebrew prose of a kind that only Berdugo can produce.
ENGLISH TRANSLATION AVAILABLE (for publishers only)
Through his unique, ascetic and pain-filled style, the narrator rubs against bare flesh … and gives his readers an intensive
and challenging reading experience … Out of fragility and frugality, there
emerges a great narrative … The character is heart-wrenching.
The Kugel Prize Committee
Original linguistic combinations
that surprise and create a theoretical language that is unique on the Israeli
The Sapir Prize Committee, January 2016
This book, consolidates
even farther Berdugo’s status as a canonical author of major national
importance … In his straightforward and modest manner, the hero succeeds in
undermining the conventions and the ancient truths of Israel …He is the
strongest weak character that you will read about this year.
Berdugo has a distinctive voice, a language all his own that does not submit to the spirit of the time.
Maya Sela, Haaretz
Every encounter with Berdugo's work gives us so much intellectual enjoyment. There is always a rich substructure of ideas … His writing is always total and intimate as he plunges into the souls of his characters … Berdugo's poetic style is mesmerizing. It is complex, rich and compressed.
Simona Batt, Ynet
Berdugo is a rare case of overwhelming acceptance in Israel … His new novel presents him at the height of his confidence as a writer. Metaphors, themes and styles that appeared in an experimental fashion in earlier works receive direct and daring – and sometimes even amusing – treatment here.
Yoni Livneh, Yedioth Ahronoth
A daring and irrepressible writer … Berdugo creates a new and musical world ... Its main strength is the way that Berdugo uses language to create a parallel reality … To enter Berdugo's linguistic world is like flying in a Starship Enterprise, made of words, to a place which human imagination has not yet mapped.
Amichai Shalev, Ynet
A remarkable book … Marcel Ben Hammo is articulately inarticulate … He speaks the language of a person who is not at home in the world, a person who loses time and place, and in this there is a strange beauty.
Motty Fogel, Time Out
The enormous skill of the author lies in the way he gets under your skin.
A sensitive and courageous journey through space-time,
in poetic language, precise to a hair’s breadth and touching the depths that
are the true core of that journey.
Dana Heifetz, Haaretz
Samni Berdugo writes in lucid and surprising prose and
passes important stations in the history of the delicate character he has
created … Berdugo invents language, exciting, innovative and unexpected.
Eran Bar-Gil, Time Out
Marvelous, moving … Taking
a physical and mental journey enables Berdugo to tell his story, with great
courage and the most meticulous linguistic precision. Thus this book of his
joins two earlier travelogues, In the Land of Israel by Amos Oz, and The
Yellow Wind by David Grossman, which, in the many-sided discussion that is
created between them, tell the lacerated, painful story of this land.
Esti Adivi-Shoshan, Education and