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Five More Minutes

Yonatan Berg

The novel follows two childhood friends, Bnaya and Yoav, who grew up in a religious West Bank settlement.

Bnaya, a young Rabbi and family man, finds himself in the middle of arguments between the extremist "Hilltop Youth" and his more moderate neighbors in the settlement, between the demands of religion and everyday life, and between ignoring the Palestinians and acknowledging them, all while under threat of eviction from his home - something that motivates him to take action to stop the situation escalating out of control.

Yoav, a film student living in Tel Aviv, is making his first steps in the secular world. As a result of using narcotics, he re-experiences a traumatic event from his army service - an arrest that went wrong during which his friend the commander and a Palestinian terrorist were killed. He sets out on a quest to come to terms with his past. He visits the parents of the dead officer and, despite the danger, attempts to reach the Palestinian village where the arrest took place. There the two childhood friends, Bnaya and Yoav, will meet again after years of separation.

The novel deals with the trauma of war and bereavement, and also offers a glimpse into the lifestyles of religious Jewish families in West Bank settlements and those of party-loving youngsters in Tel Aviv who don't want to settle down.

An ambitious first novel drawing on the author's intimate knowledge of two contrasting worlds.





The book presents a moving, mature prose that shows expressive skill, the result of a combination of descriptions of places, voices, and miniature subplots that illuminate the main narrative. In this book Shmueli has shaped a profound and multi-dimensional presence of a very sensitive young man, highly sensual and very spiritual, living a drab life of poverty and debasement. Out of this rises a howling question as to the circumstances and reasons that form a person’s life and the fate of the contemporary individual.   

The Pardes Scholarship Committee, 2016

This will be a bestseller … An imposing structure … Why will it be a bestseller? Because of the cognitive abyss between the secular and the religious, because of the small details and because of the voyeuristic urges secular readers have when it comes to the "other" world … Another reason for the predictable popularity of this book is its relevance. There has been too little prose written here on the occupation from the point of view of the occupier. 

Ariana Melamed, Haaretz


Five More Minutes is an important document that all of us should read … It should not be seen as yet another book on "the other" … The story is an all-Israeli story … It sheds  extensive light on the whole of Israeli society … It is focused, sharp, clear, and it does not feel for a single moment like a first novel, but rather like an important novel, probing and thought- provoking by a mature and ripened writer.

Amichai Shalev, Ynet


Five More Minutes is more than anything else a rich book that is full of quirks, breakdowns and yearnings. The two heroes are actually alternate sections in  the mind and the biography of Yonatan Berg himself … But it contains and embraces many more heroes as well, understandingly, attentively and restoratively … Berg’s book is like a vivid impressionist painting; his words are steeped in color and in the five senses.  

Tsur Ehrlich, Makor Rishon


Every scene, every revelation about the characters, is more or less self-evident. They do not seek to surprise. They do not try to undermine the story’s framework of credibility. This loyalty to literature that represents the "slice of life" is the source of the novel’s strength … Berg emerges here as a gifted writer of prose. He is at his best when describing live observation of his heroes … Berg succeeds in saying something that is not trivial about the youthful elderly in Israel.

Yoni Livneh, Yedioth Ahronoth

A delicate indictment, not of the political aspects of the settlements but, more profoundly, of this way of life and what it does to the soul.

Motty Fogel, Time Out


The two characters that Berg has woven are credible and it is evident that they have been from real life – their power lies in their humanity and in the fact that each one of them rebels in their own way against convention … Berg weaves in many authentic moments … Five More Minutes is very well and courageously written. He leads the reader into the byways of his heroes’ anguished souls, all of which twist and turn as they do in real life.

Nadav Shragai, Israel Hayom


Yonatan Berg’s writing is free and flowing. He certainly knows how to work with words, and the results are evident.

Tsuriel Horowitz, Kipa

A vital novel … The melancholy tone evokes the reader’s empathy.
Arik Glasner, Yedioth Ahronoth

Yonatan Berg grew up in a settlement … but the world that Berg describes is not a narrow sectoral world. In a certain sense, the feeling of confusion that Berg’s youngsters have is typical of many young Israelis.

Yiftach Ashkenazy, Mako


A lovely, readable book … This book was a true reading experience, if only for the fine, poetic writing … I am very curious as to the next books by this young and talented writer.

Meirav Golan, E-Mago

Yonatan Berg’s book dares to penetrate with an intimacy that is unbiased but not devoid of compassion, into an unexplored territory in Israeli literature – the settlements and the settlers … His prose presents a work that is of great cultural-social importance.

The Ministry of Culture Prize Committee


This book profoundly and forcefully recounts the story of two young men growing up in a settlement and reacting to the complex political and emotional world of Israeli colonization in the West Bank. Their setting out on their ways into the world reveals how fraught the emotional and moral life of the settlements is, and the stresses and undercurrents that prevail there. This novel is a highly important path-breaker in Israeli writing, in that it takes a sober, deep yet involved look at the deepest of the divides in Israeli society – that which lies between the two sides of the border between Israel proper and the occupied territories.

The Pardes Scholarship Committee, 2016

Title Five More Minutes
Author’s Last Name Berg
Author's First Name Yonatan
Language(s) Hebrew, French
Genre novel
Publisher (Hebrew) Am Oved
Year of Publication (Hebrew) 2015
No. Pages 334 pp.
Book title - Hebrew (phonetic) Od Chamesh Dakot
Representation Represented by ITHL


French: Paris, Antilope, 2018


Frayed Light:

English: Middletown, Wesleyan University Press, 2019




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