Orion Herman was born in Jerusalem in
1967, after his father fell in battle – the Six-Day War. The house in which he
grew up had belonged to an Arab who fled during the War of Independence,
leaving behind an Arabic-speaking parrot. Two women raised Orion: his mother
Aviva who was found in a Polish convent at the end of the World War II and came
to Israel as a child without identity,
and his grandmother Johanna who came from Germany with little Ulrich, Orion’s
father, after the establishment of the state. But who was Johanna, and was
Ulrich really her son? Orion will find the answers only when he grows up. To
him, Johanna was a cherished and admired grandmother; others close to her saw
her as an honorable woman, a dedicated midwife saturated in German culture, who
had sworn never to set foot on German soil again.
After Johanna dies, Orion leaves his
childhood home and moves into a new house with the parrot. He becomes a
librarian at the National Library and travels around the country in a beaten
up, gaily painted ice cream van that serves as a mobile library of books that
the Nazis used to burn. He changes women like socks until he meets his one-and-only
Christina-Anna, a German woman with a voice like flowing chocolate. Orion falls
in love with her, and when she returns to her homeland he follows her there to
get her back.
Shifra Horn’s novel is a colorful journey filled with the sounds and sights
of Jerusalem and its intriguing characters, a journey that shifts from
passionate remembrance of the past to the need to forget it.
ENGLISH TRANSLATION AVAILABLE (for publishers only).
… A minuet of love
and regret. […] “Scorpion Dance” is deeply immersed into Shifra Horn’s story
and that of her country. But it speaks to all, intensely.
Francesca Paci, La Stampa
When one reads a novel as beautiful as “Scorpion Dance” by Shifra Horn
time really stops.
Translator and author Elda Martone
A superb book, all contradictions and
contrasts, binding together blossoming and withering, evil and grace … The
writer’s choice to getting her male side to speak out with such impressive
honesty was something of a gamble, and the outcome is a happy one … How good it
is to realize that she has succeeded in finding a sort of alter-ego in his
touching character … The platform, then, is given over to the male voice, and
it makes virtuoso use of the abounding knowledge and the rich and layered
language which it has been granted. There’s a profound enchantment in the book,
in the integration of meticulous realism and caressing, poetic language … This
is a magic potion of a wise and brave writer who writes about life and death
with a warm intimacy, and does not recoil from microscopic descriptions replete
with empathy and tolerance, which together form a singular and special mixture.
Shifra Horn’s descriptions of nature in this book are among the most beautiful
that I’ve read and her Hebrew provides a sense of spiritual satisfaction … Only
someone who has experienced great love and who is prepared to share it with
others can write like this. Scorpion Dance is a song of praise to a man
who stands up boldly to his fate. It is a book that is a living and breathing
organism which continues to accompany the readers long after they have taken
their leave of it.
Rivka Keren, Haaretz
Horn’s Hebrew in the book is rich, lofty,
and complete … Another achievement of the novel lies in the construction of the
male character. This is a credible male character, certainly when it comes to
everything connected to the intimate descriptions of his life. Horn writes them
with boldness, honesty, reliability. And there are also a few twists in the
plot which make it more complex, surprising. Scorpion Dance is a layered
book with multiple meanings … At its core, the book is very relevant to the
lives of Jews and Arabs in this place. It touches upon the root of the
Shiri Lev-Ari, Ynet
The new book by Shifra Horn, one of my
favorite authors, is an invitation to a fascinating walk through Jerusalem’s
Old Katamon neighborhood. On the one hand, it is an enjoyable, enchanting walk;
on the other, it is a tortuous, battering, upsetting walk through the scenery
and the human experience … Shifra Horn tries to reconstruct the pain of memory and
its intensity, and she does so with a special music, in rich, flowing and very
sensual language. The book tickles the readers senses … If it happened to me,
it will surely happen to you too.
Shlomit Cohen-Assif, Marmelada
I could not stop myself indulging
myself in it … I cannot recall anything similar from the point of view of the
metaphors and as far as the ability to express emotion is concerned … I loved
the descriptions of sounds, smells and colors and everything in between … A
really interesting story. The heroes are complex and not predictable. The
relations between the Israelis and the Germans are complicated and interesting
… I dare to predict that the experts on literature will like it and praise it;
praise the imagination, the inventiveness, the rich imagery, the compassion,
the humanity, and also the humor … In brief, a book that is rich and enriching,
and at the end it gathers all the loose ends and brings the reader to a safe
and secure place … I enjoyed it immeasurably.
Author Ora Ahimeir
A lovely novel … Highly deserving of
the effort the reader invests in reading it, and not only thanks to the
interesting plot, the overt and covert messages, the special architectural
structure of the work, but also, perhaps mainly, because of the wonders of the
language of Shifra Horn… Just as Amos Oz made hearts quake when he wrote My
Michael from a woman’s point of view, so does Shifra Horn in writing
this book from a man’s point of view … I warmly recommend it.
Moshe Granot, Hadshot
The book gives an account of an
impossible love affair … With linguistic precision and descriptive wealth … The
plot is replete with passions.
Dubi Zakai, Maariv
Not every female writer is capable of
writing a whole book as a man. Horn leaps elegantly over this hurdle and
creates a child-boy-man character in a highly credible and empathy-arousing
manner … It was worth waiting eight years for this book.
The book is magnificent, breathtaking
and written with a loving hand. I wanted it to go on forever.
Asher Kesher, Mynet
In Scorpion Dance, Shifra Horn
has executed an enthralling literary act in an unusual manner … It is written with
sensitivity and delicacy from the perspective of a member of the second
generation after the Holocaust. Very slowly, as one reads the book, the overt
reality emerges: memories of the past are peeled away, secrets are revealed …In
a precise and sober process a dense thicket envelops and entraps the hero of
the book, and with him the reader. .. The multi-faceted tension between
remembering and forgetting is a principal component in the poetic realism of Scorpion
Dance. The novel is branded onto the memory as an unusual novel and it
constitutes a valuable contribution not only to the literature of the
Holocaust, but to Hebrew literature as a whole.
Minister's Zionism Prize Committee