Right to Left: Israel's ups and downs

Journalist Kobi Ben-Simhon's debut novel tells anecdotes from his life and the love story between his parents.

kobi ben-simon 88 (photo credit: Courtesy )
kobi ben-simon 88
(photo credit: Courtesy )
Ligdol Velichtov Be'eretz Yisrael (To Be and to Write in the Land of Israel) By Hanoch Bartov Kinneret, Zmora-Bitan, Dvir 431 pages; NIS 88 Though not published specifically in honor of the country's 60th anniversary, Hanoch Bartov's newest collection of writings gives the reader a notable view of the dramatic ups and downs of its history and society. One of the country's most veteran writers, Bartov has written hundreds of articles, stories, essays and novellas during his career. This collection includes 70 of his writings and touches on topics ranging from the Holocaust to aliya, the British army's Jewish Brigade, Jerusalem, Israeli Arabs and Shakespeare's Shylock and its relevance to today's society. Born in Petah Tikva in 1926, Bartov served in the Jewish Brigade in World War II and fought in the 1948 War of Independence. His story was the focus of a documentary film called In Our Hands: The Hidden Story of the Jewish Brigade in World War II. In many of his works, Bartov links the past to the present. He writes fictionalized accounts of his life experiences. His works also touch on Israeli identity and its essence. Readers will quickly understand that the award-winning writer is a person with faith and roots. Kol Tze'adeinu (The Sounds of our Steps) By Ronit Matalon Am Oved 424 pages; NIS 88 Ronit Matalon sets her latest romance in the 1950s and '60s in a shack owned by the National Housing Company on the outskirts of a neighborhood. Her story is humorous and at the same time heartbreaking. The plot tells of a "headless family" - deserted by a father engrossed in radical political activity against the ruling party and its discrimination against Mizrahim. It is the story of a home, about a non-home and of the desire for a home. The author, of Egyptian descent, mixes childhood memories with her adult experiences and thus creates an intriguing double point of view. Matalon's characters are depicted with great love but without sentimentality. Her previous works - three novels, a collection of short stories, a book of essays and a book for children - were all critically acclaimed. Ishti Rokedet Va'ani Holem (My Wife Dances and I Dream) By Kobi Ben-Simhon Zmora-Bitan 221 pages; NIS 84 Journalist Kobi Ben-Simhon's debut novel, My Wife Dances and I Dream, recently hit the shelves. It tells the heartfelt story of a 30-year-old Tel Aviv man who lives at home with his father. He tells anecdotes from his life and the love story between his parents - his late mother, a dancer, and his father, who dreamed of being a writer. The protagonist is somewhat of a loser, but a likable one.. Ben-Simhon, 28, has repeatedly said that his hero is completely fictional and not based on him in any way. The book is written in snippets and jumps back and forth instead of following a linear plot line. Prof. Yigal Schwartz, who has edited notable writers like Zeruya Shalev, Gabriela Avigur-Rotem and Aharon Appelfeld, took Ben-Simhon - his former student - under his wing and edited his debut novel. Now Ben-Simhon is being hailed as the voice of a new generation of writers.