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Im Yesh Gan Eden
By Ron Leshem
Kinneret, Zmora-Bitan, Dvir
Ron Leshem's debut novel, Im Yesh Gan Eden, has been a steady representative on the country's Hebrew-language best-sellers' list for the past eight months. Leshem, a 30-year-old journalist, won the 2006 Sapir Prize for Literature as well as the Yitzhak Sadeh Prize for Military Literature for his novel.
The story is written as the diary of a 20-something-year-old army officer, who, five years after the IDF officially withdrew from Lebanon, decides to go back to the year that messed up his life - the year the last unit of IDF soldiers spent on the legendary Beaufort Castle trying to prevent Hizbullah terrorists from bombing northern Israel. The narrator returns to River, the paramedic who promised to die for him; to Oshri, the sergeant who promised to shoot him if he lost a hand; to Zitlawi, who made up a language; to Spitzer, who stood in the snow and recited from Shakespeare's Henry V; and to those who did not return.
Leshem's writing is alive and readable. He employs a lot of slang and thus makes the book seem like one is almost eavesdropping on real conversations among soldiers. The novel expresses a difficult reality in which young soldiers give their lives for their country and their friends. These soldiers live in a place where life moves faster than one can imagine. Leshem offers a book that is at once funny and tragic. The story is one of politics, war, friendship and love.
Im Yesh Gan Eden has been described as a wild, hypnotic, frightening romance. Leshem's novel is currently being translated into English. While the Hebrew title means "If there is a paradise," the book is already in production as a film under the title Beaufort, and that's what the English version of the book will be called when it hits the shelves. Joseph Cedar is directing the film scheduled for release in 2007.
"Pigeon and a Boy"
By Meir Shalev
Also keeping a position on the Top 10 best-sellers' list is Meir Shalev's Yona Ve'Na'ar. The book tells three interwoven stories of a boy and his home, a nest and a girl, a pigeon and a baby. The book opens with tour guide Yair Mendelson, who is married to a wealthy American woman. He relates his surprising conception and birth, talks about his mother who helped him build a new home, and tells of the woman contractor who renovates his house and becomes his lover.
Shalev also tells two wondrous stories of love and homing pigeons that are interconnected to Mendelson's life story. The character build-up is slow, and the final pieces to the puzzle of who the characters really are are only revealed as the novel comes to its end.
Shalev's sixth novel has been called a captivating and moving story. He tells of wandering passion and the return home (whether by humans or birds). Not only are his characters rich, but his writing is powerful. Through his words he expands the reader's imagination, and succeeds in disconnecting one from the present to enter a different reality altogether. Critics have said that it is best to read Yona Ve'Na'ar as slowly as possible, as readers won't want it to end. It has already been translated into English as Pigeon and a Boy.
As one of the country's most celebrated novelists, Shalev needs no introduction. His books have been translated into more than 20 languages. He is the recipient of the Prime Minister's Prize and many other honors. As such it is no surprise that in 2005, Shalev was chosen by 10,000 Y-net readers as the most beloved writer in Israel.
Ota Ha'ahava, Kimat
By Miri Rozovsky
Kinneret, Zmora-Bitan, Dvir
It didn't take long for Miri Rozovsky's latest novel, Ota Ha'ahava, Kimat, to achieve gold-status in Israel, selling 20,000 copies. The story of friendship and hostility snags readers after just a few pages and causes them to think twice before putting the book down. Rozovsky's book tells of three friends and their madcap friendship that includes frequent breaks throughout the years, but never comes to a complete end.
The book kicks off in the 1970s when the protagonists were childhood friends and continues through to the present, to their marriages. The ups and downs along the way include how they react to the men who enter their circle, as boyfriends and husbands. The story is a very Israeli one and is also very contemporary.
As for Rozovsky's writing style, it is to the point yet filled with feeling. Overall, the three women in the novel are characters readers will remember long after page 379. The book is currently being adapted into a mini-drama series.