by Assaf Gavron
Mordantly funny and deeply moving, this award-winning novel about life in a West Bank settlement has been hailed as “brilliant” (The New York Times Book Review) and “The Great Israeli Novel [in which] Gavron stakes his claim to be Israel’s Jonathan Franzen” (Tablet).
On a rocky hilltop stands Ma’aleh Hermesh C, a fledgling outpost of Jewish settlers in the West Bank. According to government records it doesn’t exist; according to the military it must be defended. On this contested land, Othniel Assis—under the wary gaze of the Palestinians in the neighboring village—lives on his farm with his ever-expanding family. As Othniel cheerfully manipulates government agencies, more settlers arrive, and a hodge-podge of shipping containers and mobile homes takes root.
One steadfast resident is Gabi Kupper, a former kibbutz dweller who savors the delicate routines of life on the settlement. When Gabi’s prodigal brother, Roni, arrives penniless on his doorstep with a bizarre plan to sell the “artisanal” olive oil from the Palestinian village to Tel Aviv yuppies, Gabi worries his life won’t stay quiet for long. Then a nosy American journalist stumbles into Ma’aleh Hermesh C, and Gabi’s worst fears are confirmed. The settlement becomes the focus of an international diplomatic scandal, facing its greatest threat yet.
This “indispensable novel” (The Wall Street Journal) skewers the complex, often absurd reality of life in Israel. Grappling with one of the most charged geo-political issues of our time, “Gavron’s story gains a foothold in our hearts and minds and stubbornly refuses to leave.” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review).
Assaf Gavron is the author of seven books, and his fiction has been translated into ten languages. He has won the Israeli Prime Minister’s Creative Award for Authors, the Book fur die Stadt award in Germany, and the Prix Courrier International award in France. The son of English immigrants, he grew up in a small village near Jerusalem and currently lives in Tel Aviv.
The Rhode Island Hadassah book club meets the first Monday of every month, except for holidays, religious and national. Our first meeting of the year, in January, is devoted to voting on our choices of books for the rest of the calendar year. We usually read books of Jewish interest, but read a book each year that is non-Jewish, and of interest.
Marilyn Kagan is the coordinator. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org