australian wedding book 248.88.
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Australian Wedding (Hatuna Australit)
By Nava Semel | Am Oved (Hebrew) | 158 pp., NIS 84
On the surface, this is an intriguing little story of a romance involving a restive young Israeli DJ seeking the last word in a certain style of music. The young man, who happens to be the author's son, is directly related to a gifted family of creative talents - in writing, music and theater.
Nava Semel, the writer, and her husband would have probably preferred that their son, Iyar, had opted to go to Harvard or Cambridge. Whoever heard of Byron Bay in Australia? But once the son reached Australia, the family grudgingly got used to the idea. Semel's maternal instincts never lessened.
A few years ago, she decided to fly to Australia to see how her son was doing. She was particularly curious to find out what would happen if her son's non-Jewish girlfriend became the mother of her first grandchild. Semel claims she is basically telling the tale of her son's adventures, with certain literary license to cover up some identities.
Iyar was the first Israeli his Australian girlfriend ever saw. The impression Semel got in Australia was that the Israelis who live there are perceived as arrogant and blunt. Another young Israeli felt quite happy in Australia, but kept saying that if war broke out, he would rush back.
Iyar told his mother that he would not settle down in Australia; he intended to come home. But when? That he did not know. On several occasions, Semel, and some of her son's Israeli friends, observed that somehow Israel has become a kind of a revolving door for youngsters. Is not this a sign of modernity?
The truth is that Iyar wasn't quite sure what he would do with the music he was learning in Australia - a country considered by some young Israelis as having a "healing effect." One day, Iyar told his mother that he had consulted an Australian lawyer, inquiring whether he would be eligible to become a resident. He was seeking greater mobility, notwithstanding his being emotionally committed to a young Australian lady. This reference to his being part of a "new family" upset his mother. Not unusual.
But later on, perhaps as part of Iyar's character, the Australian idyll was coming to an end. The restive son wanted to keep moving. But what made him move? Was it genetic? Maybe it was the way he was brought up? Semel leaves the reader wondering.
For a few years, the Australian girlfriend and Iyar were apparently in love. But when Iyar moved to Cuba, seeking exciting Cuban beats, the girl did not share his need. She was still studying. Does it imply separation? Not necessarily, though Semel does not conceal her satisfaction that she will not have to cope with non-Jewish descendants.
The book doesn't reveal what kind of relationship Iyar and the young Australian lady might still have. On one hand the author has been fascinated by her, but has not concealed her dislike of letting a gentile woman into her family. Semel knew her son's urge to go on wandering might be less ominous than sticking with the girlfriend. Who knows what new adventures would be in store?
I really enjoyed reading the book. Semel has managed to produce a unique mixture of styles - that of extensive and elegant reporting combined with persuasive and restrained narrative. The curious reader is left wondering: Is an Australian wedding still in the cards?