Six Israeli Novellas

Six Israeli Novellas offers work by six of Israel’s most important contemporary authors. Included are Aharon Appelfeld’s “In the Isles of St. George,” in which a fugitive black marketeer — a modern reincarnation of the eternal Wandering Jew — is forced to take refuge on a desolate Italian island, where his past, his Jewishness, and his very sense of identity are resolved. In “Yani on the Mountain,” David Grossman explores the psychological impact of the 1973 Yom Kippur War on a young generation of Israelis against the backdrop of a Mount Sinai army base in its final days before demolition. Ruth Almog’s “Shrinking” lyrically portrays the loneliness and frustrations of a middle-aged heroine whose longing for true human contact is thwarted by her stifling bond to her aged father.

Also included are Yaakov Shabtai’s “Uncle Peretz Takes Flight,” a grotesque history of the Zionist dream, in the vein of Shalom Aleichem; Yehudit Hendel’s “Small Change,” about the interaction between the paranoid experience of an Israeli woman abroad and a complex father-daughter relationship; and Benjamin Tammuz’s “My Brother,” in which one brother’s selfish conquests are contrasted to the other’s passive, but ultimately more sinister, altruism.

In the words of editor Gershon Shaked, these novellas “show modern Israeli fiction at its richest and most diversified, with a character all its own.”

Gershon Shaked was born Gershon Mandel in Vienna, Austria. He immigrated to Palestine alone at the age of ten to attend the prestigious Herzliya Hebrew Gymnasium. In 1964, Shaked earned a doctorate at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he later served as chair of the Department of Hebrew Literature. He wrote and edited dozens of works of criticism in Hebrew and other languages, several of which earned awards including a Bialik Prize, an Israel Prize, and a Bahat Award.

Dalya Bilu is the translator of A.B.Yehoshua, Aharon Appelfeld and many others. She has been awarded numerous prizes, including the Israel Culture and Education Ministry Prize for Translation, and the Jewish Book Council Award for Hebrew-English Translation. She lives in Jerusalem.