Emuna Elon. House on Endless Waters


Joel Bloom is a successful Israeli writer whose books have been widely translated. To mark the publication of his third book to be translated into Dutch, he complies with his agent’s pleading and flies to Amsterdam to promote it. Although he was born there, this is his first trip back, because of a promise he made to his late mother Sonia, a Holocaust survivor – it was in the Netherlands that she lost her husband, her parents and her siblings. Only she, her daughter Netty and her baby son Joel survived.

In Amsterdam, Joel and his wife visit the Jewish museum. And there, in an old black and white movie depicting Jewish life just before the Holocaust, he spots his mother holding a baby. But Joel is sure that the fair-haired child who looks like Sonia, is not himself. Did he have a brother? And if so, what became of him? Why did they hide it from him? When he gets back home, his sister tells him – for the first time – the story of his life, and his soul can no longer rest. So he returns to Amsterdam to try and solve the mystery of the baby who disappeared and to trace his own identity. He is also determined to write his best book yet -- a novel about his mother, her family, friends, and the leaders of the Amsterdam Jewish community who collaborated with the Nazis. Thus, the tale of Joel’s trip to present-day Amsterdam is bound up with the city’s past and the story of the Jews who believed that “it couldn’t happen here," and that it was inconceivable that the cruel fate met by the Jews in other lands of Europe was awaiting them too.

Emuna Elon’s novel is a powerful human drama that foregrounds moral dilemmas and courageous decisions, and reads like a psychological-detective thriller.





How to handle a painful truth? That’s what the awarded Israeli writer Emuna Elon shows in her recently translated, poignant novel “House on Endless Waters” .It’s a wonderful book, also because of the beautiful translation.’On the one hand, the story fits in the rich literary tradition of the great authors like Amos Oz, David Grossman and A.B. Yehoshua, whose books generally take place in Israel and are marked by clear language and the capacity of great psychological insight. On the other hand the book is also a ‘Dutch’ novel in that the story develops partly in fairly affluent Jewish circles in Amsterdam during the German occupation, that is described in a very realistic way. It distinguishes itself of a lot of Dutch novels because it handles some of the more controversial subjects of the historiography of the Shoah. (…) Such elements, crucial in this novel, make sure “House on Endless Waters’ never gets bogged down in cliché’s about a rather well-known topic.

NRC Handelsbled


"House on Endless Waters"  is a very successful introduction of the Israeli writer Emuna Elon in the Dutch language. A novel that is more than just worth reading.  Excellent.




This beautifully written novel  jumps back and forth between past and present with agility, while the tension gradually mounts and persecution of Jews in the Netherlands emerges as a tangible reality.

EO Visie, May 2018 


Sonja's son is nowhere near a cliché about a well-known theme. ..As the novel progresses and the chapters that are taking place in the present are more often alternated with from Joel's novel, past and present become more intertwined. It makes the story incredibly exciting…The psychology of Joël is also beautiful. 

NRC, June 2018 



I read this book in excitement and wonder. It's not only a touching and fascinating book, but a sophisticated one as well.  

Amos Oz

Done with a craftswoman’s hand … The plot proceeds on two main levels … and the 
author describes them ably and in a very convincing manner … There are many moving episodes … The seam between the mythological and the personal is sewn with a fine, silken, concealed narrative thread whose beauty lies in its delicacy, and it creates a sense of true catharsis in the reader’s breast … Fictional and semi-fictional works have been written about the Holocaust from the moment the war ended … This book is proof that even if the option of fiction is only secondary to the documentary option, it can be done in a beautiful and moving manner. 

Alit Karp, Haaretz

In order to correctly appreciate the impressive work that Elon has produced, the book should be read more than once. The first reading – and the book is read with bated breath – will reveal the strength of the story, but in order to bare it fully, it should be examined like a complex work of art, from several aspects. This is a book that contains many meanings: the historical, the poetic, the artistic, the religious, the family-related and the existential; each reading will disclose new layers and secrets … A masterpiece. Not only because of the descriptive power of the novel, and the precise, finely constructed plot; not only because of its vivid characters whose broken hearts tear at the hearts of the reader; not only because the historical past in it lives on into the present, but because all of these depict how the history that is read in books is a fragment of the broken heart of a human being in his or her everyday life.

Bakol Serloi, Makor Rishon

Lucid and lovely … The in-depth research Elon has done on her subject is evident … House on Endless Waters is accurate historical fiction. It is to be hoped that it will be translated.

Emily Amrousi, Israel Hayom

Emuna Elon’s new book envelopes the reader even in its early pages ... Emuna Elon is an artist who uses the Hebrew language like a magic wand, and the book is recommended with all my heart.

Ofra Lax, Arutz 7


Very early on in the book, it is clear that what can be seen is not what it is … The way the book’s great secret is revealed is wonderful … This is a painful and engrossing human drama … The passages in which the story of the past is told are the best in the book, as well as the special way in which Elon weaves the stories together … Powerful … This is unimaginable drama and tragedy … This story stayed with me for many days.

Naama Carmi, Literary blog


Magical and marvelously written … Run and buy it ... The enjoyment is universal.

Knesset member Shelly Yachimovich

Emuna Elon’s new book gripped me and never let go.

Rabbi Benny Lau


Emuna Elon has succeeded in writing a story of a journey and self-discovery that is life-changing, without falling into clichés. A masterpiece.

Tsur Ehrlich

Elon’s writing is pellucid and clean and it has an evocative emotional power, but is devoid of sentimentality.  The writer does not get close up to her characters, but she writes rather from a considerable distance, and this how she pulls their strings. Good, elegant prose, and the novel is well constructed ... After reading the whole book, there is an urge to read it again, and this time to identify all the clever milestones that the writer has positioned.

Rivka Shaul Ben Zvi, Iton 77

A coherent text, conveying a feeling of reality, accurate in the description of feelings. At times I felt as if I was reading a Grossman text, from the way that the sentences sang. This is wonderful, and makes you feel that you are reading a great author ... A good book, very well narrated and written, and the leading character is really interesting. It just makes one want to read everything she will write.

Yehuda Gizbar, Literary blog

One of the best books that I have read this year … A book that is beautifully written, and which shows that even when we think we know something we actually do not know anything.

Shlomit Lica, Saloona

A book in which the plot is very well shaped and narrated, written in an intriguing way, and the main figure in it is fascinating.

Yael Chen, Prestige

Title House on Endless Waters
Author’s Last Name Elon
Author's First Name Emuna
Language(s) Hebrew
Genre novel
Publisher (Hebrew) Kinneret, Zmora-Bitan
Year of Publication (Hebrew) 2016
No. Pages 288 pp.
Book title - Hebrew (phonetic) Bayit Al Mayim Rabim
Representation Represented by ITHL


Dutch: Amsterdam, Atlas, 2018

English: New York, Atria Books, 2020

English: Crows Nest, NSW, Australia, Allen & Unwin, 2020

English: Waterville, Maine, USA, Thorndike Press (Large Print Edition), 2020