A woman travels
alone, meets Palestinian villagers and her heart reaches out. She meets parents
who want to make their children’s dream come true: to go for the first time to
the seaside. She joins in visits to relatives in prison, and gets pushed around
at checkpoints together with those wanting to enter Israel to try and find
work. She gets close to people whom many Israelis do not hear or see. And she
writes about them, about their life. But she
doesn’t only document – sometimes she
gets involved in their lives and is called on to act: for a man who needs work
and asks her to smuggle him in the trunk of her car; for a prisoner who asks
her to buy him a pair of glasses; or for Palestinian children whom she takes –
in defiance of Israeli law – on a trip to the zoo. And she also tells of
interesting conversations with men imprisoned for a long time without being
indicted, who talk to her about peace.
This book is a human
document of the highest order: a collection of pieces written over some thirty
years during which Hammerman traveled all over the West Bank and the Gaza
Strip, meeting people, assisting some of them, just lending a sympathetic ear
Her starting point is
personal. After losing her husband and her sister, who died one after the
other, Hammerman traveled to the end of the world – New Zealand. And there she
found the secret of her own personal freedom: the ability to move from place to
place without regard for internal or external boundaries. And together with
this freedom, she found joie de vivre and a resolution – she would travel
around the West Bank, meet women, men and children, listen to their dreams and
document their lives under occupation. An enthralling document.
It is a book about the astonishing
campaign of a single woman, brave and determined, who refuses to fall in line
with the precepts of this distorted and distorting situation, and who takes straight
and clear path in a totally twisted and entangled reality.
This is a forceful and weighty book … written
in a quiet, personal voice, and with humor. It is a documentary book, but it is
written like literature in the full sense of the word, it produces in the
reader – at least it did in this reader – empathy and emotion, and it reads
like a powerful, consciousness-changing novel.
Author David Grossman
I have no doubt that A
Woman on Her Own is the most important Hebrew book that has or will come
out this year. A crucial book.
Poet and translator Tal Nitzan, Haaretz
I am torn while I read it. I weep … The
writing is so honest and so lovely. It is as if there is no other way to seduce
the horror. But please, do read it.
Author Lea Aini
Hammerman is a
liberal and humanistic woman with every particle of her being …Hammerman does
not preach and does not screech, she simply describes in elegant and measured
language intolerable human experiences that happen to people with names and
faces … Hammerman is not self-righteous and she does not conceal her human
weaknesses. She revealingly describes the impatience and the discomfort that
she experiences. The fairness, the honesty as well as the frustration are not
harnessed to an ideology, they are an integral part of her life … Her writing
style is clean, articulate, restrained … Hammerman’s travels to remote places
in the world and in Israel are fascinating and very courageous journeys;
journeys to the heart of human solitude.
Simona Baht, Ynet
This book is
presented to you even if you do not agree with the political opinions of Ilana
Hammerman. What it contains is offered to you because you are human beings … If
you want a book whose words are clear and simple and which says things that
come out of a wise heart, this is a book for you … Hammerman is not boring for
one moment: Her book is vibrant, personal, and relevant, and its intensity is tangible
under the surface. Sometimes the descriptions become fine literature by virtue
of the narrative ease, with the anger neutralized. It is not the storyteller
who is shouting, it is the story that cries out without raising its voice.
Talma Admon, Maariv
because some of them possess humor and generosity; sometimes they are
positively heartwarming, amusing, almost surrealistic. And a pleasant spirit of
grace and courage blows through them and from them to those who read them. But
even when they’re like that – and they’re not always like that – they’re dark.
The heart increasingly shrivels up as one reads the stories, and the body seems
to crumple and stoop.
Omri Herzog, Haaretz
A Woman on Her Own is important … One
of the most striking things about A Woman on Her Own is what it isn’t.
Ostensibly, it could be expected that a book dealing with the experiences of
such a committed political activist would be relentlessly critical,
sensationalist, and if it is not extremist itself, that it would at least
depict the most extreme aspects of an impossible situation … But Hammerman does
not take refuge there, perhaps because that would be the easiest thing to do.
Instead, she tells of people, people who are neither all white nor all black.
This is an extraordinarily human book, and as such it constantly pricks gently,
makes the gut constrict, makes us take a deep breath and then go on … Hammerman
puts a face to people who sometimes have no face, body, name, occupation,
family, feelings or freedom, and it is important that all of us look into this
face. And the sooner the better, before it is too late.
Nimrod Ofran, Walla
A heartwrenching book
that could have been written by a kindhearted Dutch woman during the Holocaust.
There is nothing like it in Israel … At the end I asked myself: ‘where were you
all of those years?’
Human rights lawyer
Avigdor Feldman, Yedioth Ahronoth
A mesmerizing book … This is personal essay
writing at its best. The descriptions are blessed with lucidity and simplicity.
Orna Coussin, Literary blog
Ilana Hammerman has
unusual courage and abundant humanity
Yaron London, Channel
For years, Hammerman
has made brilliant translations of Kafka, and it is amazing to realize how
extensively he is echoed in her own work.
A Woman on Her Own is a must read,
precisely for those people on the Israeli right … If I were the prime minister,
I would hand the book to all the cabinet ministers and members of the Knesset as
compulsory reading … To be read and internalized.
Shlomo Gazit, On the Left Side
deeper I got into the book, the more captivated I was by its charm. This is a
book devoid of pomposity ... In Hammerman’s writing, mainly because of her thematic
choices of what to focus upon and the unique narrative style she adopts, there
is something of the discovery of an unknown land. Terra incognita … Compared to
other documentations, Hammerman’s project has a chance of penetrating into the
Naama Carmi, Literary
moving and compelling book, painful but perhaps also inspiring hope.
The New Library, Walla