14 November 2012

Books By People Who Can Read Hebrew That I Read This Past Summer

I meant to post this in August, but that wasn't how things worked out. Ahem. But what better a time to do a post about Israeli novels in translation than during Jewish Book Month?

Suddenly A Knock On the Door by Etgar Keret

Yeah. Obviously.

the bus drive who wanted to be god by Etgar Keret

Had to brush up on the Keret oeuvre. I didn't remember reading "Kneller's Happy Campers."

Homesick by Eshkol Nevo

Aww! Eshkol Nevo looks just like his granddad.
I'm thinking Eskol Nevo is not well known in the U.S.Which is too bad. This book fascinated me. I could relate to it in an interesting way because I was actually in Israel during its timeframe. I loved getting inside Amir's head, knowing his thoughts. What fascinated him, what repelled him. His own conception of himself. What he was afraid of. His loneliness.


I am including this link to a video of Nevo at Urbana-Champaign some time in 2010. (I couldn't embed this. Sorries!) It's about an hour long, but it is absolutely fascinating and worth it. So, get the tea and bikkies and settle in. I love this video so much I wish I hadn't watched it so I could have the experience of watching it for the first time. Nevo talks some about the translation process, about Homesick, his writing process, reads from the book, and answers questions.


Nevo teaches writing, so the most interesting part for me was what he said about the "pedagogic" or "pedagogical tone" in writing. (As opposed to the intuitive.) I'd really like to hear about this.

Her Body Knows by David Grossman


This book was going to get its very own post earlier this past summer, but that did not work out. Grossman may look like the weirdly quiet guy working in IT, but in these two novellas he writes from a place in which the body is practically the only thing that matters. Well, obviously this is such a central theme that it's enshrined in the title.

I think the degree to which I wanted to stop reading "Frenzy," the first novella, at several points was directly inverse to my desire to finish reading the second "Her Body Knows." Frustrating the issue of what's-really-going-on is also central. (And, dispiritingly, that's probably the entire point of the work.)

Despite realizing Bodies, bodies--this work is about bodies, I was almost  taken aback by how kaleidoscopic "Her Body Knows" actually is. The descriptions of bodily states--the central character is a yoga instructor--is almost psychedelic, Which is awesome. But also nerve-wracking for would-be writers of fiction.

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