Metrotainment: Pride of the bride

The author says she had a good idea her initial writing escapade would end up as a bona-fide published volume.

The Jewish Bride (photo credit: Courtesy)
The Jewish Bride
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Hagar Doron favors a balanced approach to life. The 36-year-old author recently put out her debut novel, The Jewish Bride, which she says feeds off the highest and lowest forms of energy, and a few between.
“There is an erotic passage toward the end of the book, which some people like and some don’t. I believe we should strive to attain spiritual heights, but that we are also here on Earth, to experience lower physical things, too,” she says.
Doron is one of a number of authors whose literary first fruits are among the avalanche of books that will be on sale at the annual Hebrew Book Week sites up and down the country this month.
The fact that The Jewish Bride actually happened is partly down to serendipity and, had the author decided to take a golden opportunity to study abroad, she would probably never have set fingers to keyboard. But, as veteran Indian musician Krishnamurti Sridhar once wisely noted, things always happen when they are meant to.
Doron – today a PhD student of history at Tel Aviv University – was originally offered a full study and living grant to take a doctoral degree at Trinity College in Dublin, the same institution where she completed a master’s degree. But her bond with Tel Aviv proved to be heftier than the pull of the Emerald Isle.
“I decided not to take the grant because I realized that would probably have meant living abroad for a long time, and I really feel the need to live in Tel Aviv,” she says. “This is an amazing city with such fantastic energies. This is the place where I feel at home.”
She didn’t know it at the time, but by deciding not to move to Ireland, she opened her writing floodgates.
“I suddenly have a few months free, and I just sat down to write the book,” she explains. “It wasn’t premeditated. It all just flowed out. It wasn’t difficult.”
It paid off: Modan, one of the country’s leading publishing houses, quickly picked up The Jewish Bride.
The book contains numerous subtexts. Its title alludes to a famous painting by Rembrandt; the heroine of the story, Hagar Hayam, lives on the street of that name in Tel Aviv; and the book cites the Dutch artist’s work. The central character’s family name references her strong connection with the sea, as well as a couple of real-life pioneers called Ze’ev and Miri Hayam. The latter were close friends of Doron’s tough-as-nails grandfather, Granddad Grisha, who features strongly in the book.
True to her historical bent – and to her familial loyalties – Doron salutes the pioneer generation in several ways, including in her use of Hebrew. For instance, she calls the preface to the book “Introduktzia,” rather than the more commonplace “mevo” or “hakdama.”
“That is a sort of pioneer jargon which represents the Russian roots that run through the book,” explains the author, adding that while she based the central character on herself, and some of the other figures who people her work feed off real life characters, The Jewish Bride is not autobiographical.
“No, it is autofiction,” she says. “Of course I take certain material from my own life, as any artist does, but it is definitely not a one-on-one account of my own life.”
Many a writer, or budding writer, might dream of taking a break from the hurly-burly of urban life to find their muse in, for example, some pastoral location in classically verdant Ireland. Not Doron.
“Tel Aviv is the best place to write in,” she asserts. “It’s such an inspiring place.
All you need to do is open your eyes and start writing.”
It remains to be seen whether she will churn out tome after tome in Tel Aviv, but for now, at least, her first offering is doing well.
She will, no doubt, be busy signing copies of her books in Rabin Square next week, but she is also getting on with her life.
“The trick is to try to find the symbiosis between all the sides of life, and to see how they fit in with each other,” she observes. “That is what I tried to do with the book, to address the corporeal and the spiritual, too, and to maintain a balance. I think that’s what we all try to do.”
The creation of a work of art, she says, is “like making a baby.”
“There is... something about this book that incorporates a connection between creation and passion and emotion,” she explains. “This is not just a matter of sexual desires, but also of creating something new.”
The author says she had a good idea her initial writing escapade would end up as a bona-fide published volume.
“I was and wasn’t surprised,” she states. “You know, it’s like all parents think their child is the greatest, and I had a good feeling about my baby, my book.”
Still, she is appreciative: “It’s always a wonderful feeling when you come up with an idea, and produce something, that it takes on a tangible existence in the world, particularly in this highly capitalist reality and tough world where you can’t take anything for granted.”
That “highly capitalist reality” is also the subject of a petition urging the Culture Ministry to ban large discounts on books that eat into authors’ profits, although Doron is just glad her efforts have been published.
“I fully understand that an author can feel frustrated that he or she gets such a small percentage of the sale price of their book, but I feel that we have to do everything in our power to get books to the public,” she says. “I am not certain that’s it’s such a bad thing that people can buy several books for a relatively reasonable price. I remember, as a teenager, books were very expensive, so I am not sure it’s totally wrong to make literature more accessible to people. Anyway, I am at the very beginning of my literary career, so it’s difficult for me to judge other writers’ standpoint on this.”
One thing is for sure: To date, the public’s standpoint on The Jewish Bride has been highly favorable.
Hebrew Book Week will take place June 6- 16 all over the country, including in Tel Aviv (Rabin Square), Jerusalem (Liberty Bell Garden), Beersheba (Performing Arts Center), Kfar Saba (municipal square next to Arim Shopping Mall) and Modi’in (outside Heichal Hatarbut).