In an old-time
Haifa neighborhood, there’s a famous patisserie that has seen better days.
Karol Schmidt, who came from Europe, opened it over fifty years ago, and people
who appreciate good cake and don’t care about their waistlines have remained
loyal to him to this day. Karol, a widower since the death of his unhinged
wife, is attracted to his waitress Betty who has also seen better days. But her
heart belongs to Yossi, the head baker, who loves her in return. Meanwhile,
Ionel, a devoted customer and a good friend of Karol’s, has fallen in love with
Deborah, who is taller than him and unattractive to boot, but she’s a pleasant,
friendly woman. Karol’s daughter Ossie welcomes the new woman in her father’s
life, but his late wife’s ghost is watching and plotting revenge. Ossie, the
Haifa City Hall spokeswoman, isn’t happy with her love life either: She has had
a long but aimless affair with Omri, an art lecturer at the university who is
married with no thought of divorce. And incidentally, Omri’s wife is in love
with Dan, the city veterinarian, and the two celebrate their romance at a table
laden with pastries at Karol’s bakery.
this and more takes place against the backdrop of a city-sponsored family relay
race. And in fact, Goldminz’s fine-tuned, humorous book is shaped like a relay
race, each character passing the baton of the story to the next person, with dovetailing
plotlines. Bitter and sad events wind in and out of the patisserie, but the
relay race of life goes on-- happiness takes over from sorrow and sweetness
from bitterness. At the end of the race, the desire for life and love is the
PARTIAL ENGLISH TRANSLATION AVAILABLE (for publishers only).
In my eyes, Relay Race is one
of the best Hebrew books to come out in recent years. It contains a delicate
balance between humor and compassion and between mockery and empathy ... In most of the
characters, despair is mixed with a little self-love, their absurdity arouses pity,
and their ill-fated loves arouse not contempt or disgust but sympathy… The book’s
structure and textures are sophisticated and very delicate.
Author Amos Oz
This is one of those texts in which it
is clear from the outset that there is a well-formed voice here … Both
well-formed and original, the likes of which I have not come across in all the
years I have been a teacher … A novel which is greater than the sum of its
parts. There’s black humor to it that exists in short supply in Hebrew
literature … Ariella is blessed with the ability to weave characters that stay
In Relay Race there’s a touch
that is both powerful and gentle, and full of imagination when it comes to both
language and human beings…
The ostensibly naïve charm enfolds so
much wisdom, humanity, warmth of heart, truth, beauty, optimism … The
characters continue to live inside us.
Author Judith Rotem
I read your book with
great enjoyment, I laughed, I was sad, and I lived with the people of the
bakery – the bakers, the customers, and with all the other characters that you
have shaped so well. Relay Race is an impressive work, wise, full of
humor and compassion.
Author Mira Magen
A sense of heartfelt, easy-going and amused
satisfaction accompanies the reader of her first book from beginning to end … A sweet and delicious novel.
Love is the sweet stuff of life, and these characters
know it all too well … We live for love no matter who we are. How old or what
we look like. Lovely!
The Jerusalem Post
It’s a pleasure to see that a first
book can be so splendid, so full of good things. Ariella Goldmintz has an
amazing talent for noticing small details that differentiate people from one
another … Endearing. She has a singular
voice, the likes of which I have not encountered in a long time. This is a
writer we will hear more about.
Kol Israel 1
The book is written in a
meticulous, precise manner, a work of craftsmanship, with subtle humor.
Goldmintz observes her characters, but not from above,
A fascinating literary
tapestry of rare beauty … A dizzying carousel of happenings, an authentic
Israeli world that has never before been written about like this in Hebrew
It’s impossible not to fall in love
with Goldmintz’s lovely first book, which shows kindness to simple, hard-up
folks, most of them not young, who want to gobble down one more helping of love
before life gets the better of them. In impressively descriptive language and
with fine humor, Goldmintz skillfully concocts a collection of short stories
whose plots dovetail with each other. Warmly recommended!
In wonderfully simple and lucid prose,
with idioms devoid of frills that reach deep into the soul of the reader, the
writer tells ostensibly little stories about people working in a small
patisserie in Haifa. However, the fascinating selection of characters and the
skillfully interwoven narrative give this tasteful novel an unusual and very
The Ministry of
Culture Prize Committee