The stories in this collection fuse into a kind of novel, in which Nurit Zarchi journeys back to the world of her childhood. Her father was a writer. After his death, her mother ruled all. Twice widowed, she is depicted as a domineering, emasculating woman, who has had to give up her own artistic ambitions to cope with the harsh demands of Israeli life. Although she insisted on having a piano in her home, she transmits a clear warning to her daughter to steer clear of the arts. But her daughter - the narrator - cannot accept a life of stifling mediocrity and longs to escape to loftier, more satisfying worlds. As she matures, she becomes aware of similarity between herself and her mother. Both grew up without a father, in the shadow of a dominant mother who was hardened and emotionally dulled by the hardships of life. Unlike her mother, however, the narrator is not prepared to surrender her hope of salvation through literature. But her attitude towards it is ambivalent: although it gives her moments of happiness and sublimity, it also entails frustration, loneliness and personal sacrifices.
An absent father and the suitcase of manuscripts that he left behind, life in the shadow of an active, troubled mother, the fraught relationship between a woman writer and her poet husband, a brief romance between a teacher and a young man many years her junior - all these and more are the subjects of Zarchi’s unique and inspired writing.
ENGLISH TRANSLATION IN PROGRESS (for publishers only).
I read the stories three times … and each time I discovered more beautiful passages, more insights full of human wisdom … Their strength lies in their ability to soar to realms common to all, and at the same time to delve into that which is unique … A fascinating mosaic like the colorful fragments inside a kaleidoscope… We find here a beauty and a magic that one cannot get accustomed to.
Author Judith Rotem
A remarkable collection ... There is always the same Zarchi quality in her writing, the sense of hovering lightly over reality … In both her children’s books and her adult fiction, there is poetry and mystery.
Zarchi enchants her readers with a unique language that she constructs anew with each and every book … [Her] awareness of paradox has an almost primal power, and her symbolism goes hand in hand with everyday descriptions … stirring and thrilling … In each story, she draws near, making everything tangible, and yet maintains a distance.
Nurit Zarchi is the Amos Oz of female Hebrew literature. She is the Godmother, the midwife, and the mother … In her latest book, there is not one single sentence that is not true … This book is so marvellous … Above all, there is always that simple, precise articulation: precisely the way people speak, the economy of the spoken language, the language in which we think our feelings and our longings … Refreshes our idea of what a book should be.
This is true literature, literature that poses a series of riddles and energizes the reader to fill in the gaps … What is splendid and profound about this book is Zarchi’s ambivalent attitude towards literature – seeing it both as a lifesaving rope and as the plank one walks before drowning … Her combination of seriousness and humor, of exposure and restraint, evokes esteem and admiration.
Nurit Zarchi’s stories stand out for their rare beauty, for the sadness that is simultaneously seductive and intolerable, and for the economy that creates intentional narrative gaps. The reader finds himself time and again wishing that they will not end – and when they do end, a riddle always remains.
You have to dissociate from the usual ways of reading, and surrender to a very personal poetics, which undermines every accepted convention and form … The poetic principle of this book is the way it ascribes importance to small details that the eye cannot see, for that is where significant events occur.
There is so much beauty here … Nurit Zarchi’s stories are imbued with cultural imagery that make them into a wondrous mosaic full of intensity and surprise … Zarchi’s stories incarnate the female voice of Israeli creativity and its extraordinary possibilities. For this, we owe her much gratitude.
Dr. Tamar S. Hess
I have read her wonderful
latest book, In Her Shadow and
was very moved, not only by the story but also by the language that she
Actress Liora Rivlin