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December 2006

Reading Right To Left: New Hebrew Writing From Israel

Image: Yishay Garbasz

In a land where borders are provisional, contested, and fiercely policed, language to some exent flows around the barriers. Thus is Hebrew used by writers both Jewish and Arab, Sephardic and Ashkenazi, hawk and dove. A diverse group of writers here put their common language of Hebrew to individual use, in iconoclastic stories replete with ironic reversals. In portraits of contemporary life during wartime, Yitzhak Laor reports an idiot's accidental heroism; Sara Shilo's exhausted widowed mother prays for the blessed relief of a rocket; and Guy Morad's graphic tale reveals the vulnerability of a lethal infiltrator. On the domestic front, Hanoch Levin charts a romance that is both everything and nothing, and Orly Castel-Bloom's sly narrator embraces senility as an excuse for bad behavior. Ida Fink maps a Holocaust survivor's journey of mistaken identity. And Sayed Kashua updates "Cinderella" to suggest one way of surviving a schizophrenic culture. We thank our guest editor, Riva Hocherman, for her heroic efforts in compiling this singular collection, and for her illuminating introduction to this complex literary culture.

Photo courtesy Yishay Garbasz. © 2006 by Yishay Garbasz. All rights reserved.

Who Is an Israeli Writer?

Who is an Israeli writer? Israel's dominant language is Hebrew. Its twentieth-century renovation was central to the Zionist project, it is the language of the common culture, and the

The Ambush

© 2006 by Yishay Garbasz. All rights reserved. When Dudu Rotem was still a corporal, the squad of five he commanded was assigned to set up an ambush south of the Dead Sea. This squad



Who would of thought that the Katyusha1 would catch me outside? Six years I don't go out. I walk without thinking, house-market-work-house-clinic-work-house-market-house-work. Comes the


The Creature

Copyright 2006 by Guy Morad. By arrangement with the author. Translation copyright 2006 by Riva Hocherman. All rights reserved.

The Eternal Invalid and the Beloved

I A young man, an eternal invalid, loved a girl, but she was merely fond of him. They met for a while and even kissed. How did this come about? As far as the invalid was concerned, it was

My Fallow Years

When I grow old, in however many three-month intervals, I'll gain more and more disabilities, cognitive and otherwise. I'll always be on edge and I'll always be thinking that


An Address

The telegram came at eight in the morning. He was still lying in bed; he didn't really feel like getting up. He couldn't stand Sundays anymore; they were empty days difficult to


Herzl Haliwa lets out a scream and jerks his head from the pillow in alarm. He comes to his senses very quickly—this had happened before—and lies still, gently inhaling and



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