Shulamit Lapid. Gai Oni

This beautiful novel follows the first seven years of Gai Oni - a settlement in Galilee, precursor to the town of Rosh Pina - as seen by a pioneer woman. Fania, a 16-year-old survivor of a pogrom in the Ukraine, arrives in pre-state Israel with her old uncle, a deranged brother and an unwanted baby, the product of rape. On her arrival in Jaffa she meets Yehiel, a 26-year-old widower, father of two, one of the few courageous souls left in Gai Oni. Severe drought and exhausting work have driven away most of the pioneers, leaving behind only a few tenacious families. Fania moves in with Yehiel and throws herself into the life of a peasant woman, trying to squeeze a living out of the stony ground despite hunger and disease. Dressed in Arab dress, she rides through the bandit-infested country and breaks into the male-dominated worlds of commerce and politics, even of defence. Eventually, Yehiel succumbs to malaria and exhaustion and Fania is left to continue the struggle without her partner.

Lapid’s lush saga should appeal to readers interested in Jewish lore or pioneer fiction.
Kirkus Reviews

Sixty-one years after the declaration of the state, the story of the pioneers of more than a hundred years ago is still well worth retelling.
Chicago Jewish Star

Lapid corrects a distortion in Israeli pioneer history in which mostly men’s names were counted and she emphasizes the strength that women needed compared to the men. You read Lapid’s book in one go.
Yedioth Ahronoth

This book is unique in dealing with [the first wave of Jewish immigration to the Land of Israel].

LapidSh Gai Oni
Title Gai Oni
Author’s Last Name Lapid
Author's First Name Shulamit
Language(s) English, German, French
Genre novel
Publisher (Hebrew) Keter
Year of Publication (Hebrew) 1982
No. Pages 260 pp.
Book title - Hebrew (phonetic) Gei Oni
Representation Represented by ITHL


French: Paris, Pierre Belfond, 1984; Grand livre du mois, 1984; Paris, LFG, 1986
German: Reinbeck, Rowohlt, 1991; 1993; ebook: forthcoming 
English (Valley of Strength): New York & London, Toby Press, 2009