You, Who Live So
a sweeping, wild novel that relates the tale of a young family in a poor suburb
of Tel Aviv. It begins in the late 1980s when the father, Kika Weinstein, a
charming conman with a captivating personality who got entangled in lies but still
harbors dreams of getting rich quick, flees the country. Leaving his wife
Miriam and children Ilsa and Assi with promises to “fix them up with a new
life,” he heads to England and then vanishes, leaving behind only debts and a
family that is falling apart. Kika is a pro at making promises and building
castles in the air, but disappoints everyone around him again and again, robs
them of their money and leaves them penniless.
The novel moves back and forth in time
and space, reveals a web of false identities and wanderings, as well as a
suffering branch of the family tree that sprang from Kika’s mother. She lost
her family in the Holocaust and was keen to get rid of her infant son by placing
him in an orphanage. Years later, after Kika abandons the family he has built,
his daughter Ilsa – the main narrator – must
grow up prematurely and deal with her disrupted world, including her dysfunctional
mother, who gets together with random men only to be disappointed by them
later. Ilsa has an ambivalent
attitude towards her father: She too, like the others, is entrapped by his
charms and she interprets the family’s story as a fatal, predestined collapse.
Three years after he left them, she and her brother meet their father in New
York and realize that he hasn’t changed. But the renewed acquaintance with his
magnetic personality forces Ilsa to face up to the destructive and dark
elements that are imprinted in her as well. At 18, she becomes a fashion model.
Pretty, malevolent and lost, she wants to taste the good life and is not deterred
by any risks or dubious escapades.
PARTIAL ENGLISH TRANSLATION AVAILABLE (for publishers only)
language of the novel has a remarkable effect, achieved in the very name of the
book: Not only do its characters stay with you after you’ve read it, but also
their music; the rhythm of the speech and of the dream, of their interaction
with the world, continues to reverberate in the ear days after the book has
been closed and put on the shelf … The four parts of the novel … are
constructed with great skill and brilliance.
Chen Shtrass, Haaretz
superb book … lovely, moving and full of adventures, that is very worth a read
… This is a debut book, but nevertheless it has no unresolved plot lines, no
characters who appear and then inexplicably disappear, and the timing is
excellent, with Peer knowing precisely when to move on to the next thing.
Peer’s skill is evident in a number of areas. First of all, in the title. What
a great title! In five words it describes an entire world … Secondly, the
heroes … Third, in the way the story is told … and fourthly in the statement
the book makes … Peer chooses a tone that is a rare combination of resignation
and acceptance of the situation on the one hand, and the exploitation by the
heroes’ of all the means at their disposal to live a better life, and this is
Meital Sharon, Mako
You, Who Live So Beautifully is a most impressive literary achievement, both as a first
book and in general.
Ran Bin-Nun, Yedioth Ahronoth
first thing that catches your attention in Michal Peer’s novel is the title,
which charmingly challenges the reader to probe deeper into the book. At a time
when so many books compete for readers’ attention, Peer manages to stand out
and to present her book in an intriguing manner … Peer has an impressive
writing talent, and she certainly demonstrates this in the novel … The forward
and backward movement in time, the transition from one character’s point of
view to another’s, all create a book brimming over with sweeping cinematic
values … The attempt to go against conventional literary structure is an
interesting and admirable step.
Simona Baht, Ynet
than anything else, You, Who Live So Beautifully honestly tackles the
problem of the disintegration of the family (and not just any family, but one
from the lower class, far less glamorous than other families in literature)
into a million pieces, and it does so with very few clichés ... The story flows
along naturally and it makes for a pleasant read.
Nimrod Ofran, Walla
very impressive first novel … One may wager that Peer is at the outset of a
literary career that will gain much attention from both critics and readers …
She writes excellently. She knows how to tell a story, and she does with a
combination of wild humor, great sensitivity, and poetic precision.
Dafna Levy, Laisha
succeeds in an almost impossible mission: To tell about a Tel Aviv family that
no one can feel that they already know.
Tamar Raphael, Time Out
loved this remarkable book. A first novel by a writer, about whom I have no
doubt we will hear a great deal. The writing is beautiful and touching and it
is easily possible to identify with the characters, especially the charming Ilsa
Carmit Bar-Gil, Saloona
lovely prose is delicate and poetic but not ornate.