The novel follows two childhood
friends, Bnaya and Yoav, who grew up in a religious West Bank settlement.
Bnaya, a young Rabbi and family man,
finds himself in the middle of arguments between the extremist "Hilltop
Youth" and his more moderate neighbors in the settlement, between the
demands of religion and everyday life, and between ignoring the Palestinians
and acknowledging them, all while under threat of eviction from his home - something
that motivates him to take action to stop the situation escalating out of
Yoav, a film student living in Tel
Aviv, is making his first steps in the secular world. As a result of using
narcotics, he re-experiences a traumatic event from his army service - an
arrest that went wrong during which his friend the commander and a Palestinian
terrorist were killed. He sets out on a quest to come to terms with his past.
He visits the parents of the dead officer and, despite the danger, attempts to
reach the Palestinian village where the arrest took place. There the two
childhood friends, Bnaya and Yoav, will meet again after years of separation.
The novel deals with the trauma of
war and bereavement, and also offers a glimpse into the lifestyles of religious
Jewish families in West Bank settlements and those of party-loving youngsters
in Tel Aviv who don't want to settle down.
An ambitious first novel drawing on
the author's intimate knowledge of two contrasting worlds.
TRANSLATION AVAILABLE (for publishers only).
The book presents a moving, mature prose that shows expressive skill, the result of a combination of descriptions of places, voices, and miniature subplots that illuminate the main narrative. In this book Shmueli has shaped a profound and multi-dimensional presence of a very sensitive young man, highly sensual and very spiritual, living a drab life of poverty and debasement. Out of this rises a howling question as to the circumstances and reasons that form a person’s life and the fate of the contemporary individual.
The Pardes Scholarship Committee, 2016
This will be a bestseller
… An imposing structure … Why will it be a bestseller? Because of the cognitive
abyss between the secular and the religious, because of the small details and
because of the voyeuristic urges secular readers have when it comes to the "other" world … Another reason for the predictable popularity of this book is
its relevance. There has been too little prose written here on the occupation
from the point of view of the occupier.
Ariana Melamed, Haaretz
Five More Minutes
is an important document that all of us should read … It should not be seen as
yet another book on "the other" … The story is an all-Israeli story … It
sheds extensive light on the whole of
Israeli society … It is focused, sharp, clear, and it does not feel for a
single moment like a first novel, but rather like an important novel, probing
and thought- provoking by a mature and ripened writer.
Amichai Shalev, Ynet
Five More Minutes
is more than anything else a rich book that is full of quirks, breakdowns and
yearnings. The two heroes are actually alternate sections in the mind and the biography of Yonatan Berg
himself … But it contains and embraces many more heroes as well,
understandingly, attentively and restoratively … Berg’s book is like a vivid
impressionist painting; his words are steeped in color and in the five
Tsur Ehrlich, Makor Rishon
Every scene, every
revelation about the characters, is more or less self-evident. They do not seek
to surprise. They do not try to undermine the story’s framework of credibility.
This loyalty to literature that represents the "slice of life" is the source of
the novel’s strength … Berg emerges here as a gifted writer of prose. He is at
his best when describing live observation of his heroes … Berg succeeds in
saying something that is not trivial about the youthful elderly in Israel.
Yoni Livneh, Yedioth Ahronoth
A delicate indictment,
not of the political aspects of the settlements but, more profoundly, of this
way of life and what it does to the soul.
Motty Fogel, Time Out
The two characters that
Berg has woven are credible and it is evident that they have been from real
life – their power lies in their humanity and in the fact that each one of them
rebels in their own way against convention … Berg weaves in many authentic
moments … Five More Minutes is very well and courageously written. He
leads the reader into the byways of his heroes’ anguished souls, all of which
twist and turn as they do in real life.
Nadav Shragai, Israel Hayom
Yonatan Berg’s writing is
free and flowing. He certainly knows how to work with words, and the results
Tsuriel Horowitz, Kipa
A vital novel … The melancholy tone evokes the reader’s
Arik Glasner, Yedioth Ahronoth
Yonatan Berg grew up in a settlement … but the world
that Berg describes is not a narrow sectoral world. In a certain sense, the
feeling of confusion that Berg’s youngsters have is typical of many young Israelis.
Yiftach Ashkenazy, Mako
A lovely, readable book … This book was a true reading experience, if only for the fine, poetic writing … I am very curious as to the next books by this young and talented writer.
Meirav Golan, E-Mago
Yonatan Berg’s book dares
to penetrate with an intimacy that is unbiased but not devoid of compassion,
into an unexplored territory in Israeli literature – the settlements and the
settlers … His prose presents a work that is of great cultural-social
The Ministry of Culture Prize Committee
This book profoundly and forcefully recounts the story of two young men growing up in a settlement and reacting to the complex political and emotional world of Israeli colonization in the West Bank. Their setting out on their ways into the world reveals how fraught the emotional and moral life of the settlements is, and the stresses and undercurrents that prevail there. This novel is a highly important path-breaker in Israeli writing, in that it takes a sober, deep yet involved look at the deepest of the divides in Israeli society – that which lies between the two sides of the border between Israel proper and the occupied territories.
The Pardes Scholarship Committee, 2016