Gabriela Avigur-Rotem. Heatwave and Crazy Birds

The story of Loya Kaplan is also the story of Israeli society’s attempt to bury its Jewish past and the Holocaust in the deep recesses of national memory, linking up instead to its more distant biblical past. However, short-term memory refuses to be repressed, and erupts 50 years later. Loya, born as Lea in 1946, immigrated to Israel with her parents and half-brother, Nahum, former inmates of the Terezin ghetto during the war. Her mother, Milena, a communist activist, left her husband and two children several years later and returned to Czechoslovakia, where she was arrested and was unable to maintain contact with her family in Israel. Loya was raised as a motherless child in a household with two fathers: her natural father, a professor of archaeology, and his friend, Davidi – Nahum`s father and Milena`s erstwhile fiancי. After her father`s death, Loya leaves her childhood neighborhood and works as a flight attendant for several years, detaching herself completely from her past and from Israel. At age 48, Loya returns to her childhood home, which she has inherited from Davidi. After Nahum is killed in a flying accident, Loya attempts to re-establish links with the neighborhood where she grew up and her childhood friends. Her journey into her past is actually a journey into her parents` past, since they told her nothing of their wartime experiences. Loya immerses herself in the journal her father kept in the ghetto. By means of this journal and letters she finds, she discovers that her mother is not dead, as she had always thought, but returned to Czechoslovakia for idealogical reasons. Armed with this information, Loya travels to Czechoslovakia, arrives in Terezin, and locates her elderly mother, who had been released from protracted political imprisonment several years earlier. The atmosphere of this novel and the descriptions it contains are unmistakably Israeli. It aspires to deal with some of the most complex problems facing Israeli society.

Title Heatwave and Crazy Birds
Author’s Last Name Avigur-Rotem
Author's First Name Gabriela
Language(s) English, German, French, Italian
Genre novel
Publisher (Hebrew) Keshet
Year of Publication (Hebrew) 2001
Publisher 2 (Hebrew) Kinneret, Zmora-Bitan
Year of Publication 2 (Hebrew) 2008
No. Pages 375 pp.
Book title - Hebrew (phonetic) Chamsin Ve-Tziporim Meshugaot
Representation Represented by ITHL


French: Arles, Actes Sud, 2006
Italian: Milan, Baldini & Castoldi, 2004
German: Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 2008
English: Champaign, IL, Dalkey Archive, 2011