The drive portrayed in this novel is one that some of us are familiar
with, and that others may tend to make light of: A young soldier is
traveling from his base to meet a military mental health officer. It soon
transpires that this is also a journey to the far reaches of the mind, to
the depths of Israeli society, and perhaps also to truth and salvation. The
soldier is from an Orthodox-Jewish-nationalist family, for whom the idea
of shirking duty is unacceptable. Accompanying him on the journey is
his father, for whom the words ‘mental health’, when associated with his
son, attest to a failure from which there may not be a recovery. The drive
becomes charged with ever more significance, skidding at times into jolting
emotional storms, revealing rifts between romantic, religious longings and
family and political dilemmas, and shifting back and forth between despair
and fear of death on the one hand and breathtaking beauty on the other.
“The Drive represents a new landmark in Israeli fiction … Israel’s own The Catcher in the Rye, its narrator—like Holden Caulfield—a too-sensitive young man on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Like Holden, he has a nose for phoniness and can see through the false bravado and cruelty of Israel’s military infrastructure. And, like Salinger’s novel, The Drive reveals the fault lines in a national narrative … Assulin delivers powerfully.”
The Los Angeles Review of Books
"The most remarkable part of this book may be in its exploration of how impossible the mentally healthy find it to participate in the journey of the mentally ill .... A superb debut from one of Israel’s younger prize-winning authors translated by Cohen, who shared the Man Booker International Prize with David Grossman for her translation of A Horse Walks into a Bar."
Reading The Drive in these times ... feels nearly like a political act. The soldier's mental conflict feels like our very own. Can we take a break from the new cycles, from being perpetually battle-ready, from speaking, writing, reacting and just spend a morning with a poem anymore? ... A novel that is really a manual for what it takes to be an individual in a country today.
This work on the fragility of the human spirit is touching.
Prize–winning debut ... exemplifies the individual’s battle against larger forces ... An unexpected story of resistance to military life, sobering and nuanced.
A powerful, compelling and fascinating look inside the mind of a young man as he struggles to find his way in life.
Joseph LeDoux, author of Anxious and The Deep History of Ourselves
The mesmerizing story of a young Israeli torn between his own powerlessness and his lust to live.
Benjamin Balint, author of Kafka's Last Trial
Assulin's hero, like Joseph Heller's Yossarian in Catch-22, is a young man struggling to make sense of the world and himself amid the surreal madness of war.
David Margulies, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Dinner With Friends
This book shatters ideals and illusions about glorious and patriotic military service.
Edward Tick, author of War and the Soul and Warrior’s Return
Assulin lays bare the emotional distress of a person, any person, and the world’s inability to understand it except by means of mechanical categories from the
field of psychiatry.
Benny Ziffer, Haaretz
A touching, gut-wrenching work. It is astounding and troubling at the same time.
The Drive serves up the mesmerizing story of a young Israeli torn between his own powerlessness and his lust to live. In the grip of Assulin’s bracing novel, those hopes become ours.
Benjamin Balint, author of Kafka’s Last Trial