Title: Jerusalem Beach (original title: חוף הים של ירושלים)
Writer: Iddo Gefen (translated by Daniella Zamir)
Publishing House: Astra House
Date of Publication: August 17th 2021 (first published August 2017)
Rating: 5 stars
‘’A month and a half later, he packed a bag, stuffing it with four undershirts, five pairs of underwear, a flashlight, two cans of sardines, a biography of Moshe Sharett, and anti-chafing cream. Not because he thought he might be cold but because he continued to fear the woman he had loved ever after she had passed away.’’
The characters in these beautiful stories are faced with issues that would weaken the strongest of us. The loss of a child, the loss of a spouse, the awareness that your time is ending, the feeling of being helpless and trapped, the burden of memories, the inevitability of disaster, the pressure that comes with being in love. And yet, this is the force that keeps everything together. Love creates problems and love solves them. In a collection that is as vivid and melancholic as the afternoons during late summer, Iddo Gefen creates a treasure to be felt deeply in our hearts and a very special journey within the heart of Israel.
The Geriatric Platoon: An elderly man enlists in the Golani infantry brigade, trying to recover from the death of his wife. A moving, tender story of fatherhood, old age, independence and the cruelty of being selfish.
“Next to a red hill in the desert, our only daughter wandered and disappeared into the thicket of her dreams, leaving us blind—as we heard the thud of her fall without knowing in which direction to turn.”
Exit: A young girl seems to live inside her dreams and her parents are doing their best to cope with this extraordinary situation. A beautiful story about the bond between parents and children, between spouses, between plans and life as we get it. A tale about dreams, reality, love
“When did she tell him about the snow on the beach? He wasn’t sure. But it happened here, during one of their first encounters, when she arrived to buy challah at the bakery and then slipped away with him into the nearby alley. That was where she told him about her very first memory. About children playing in the snow, digging with bare hands in search of the sand that had disappeared.”
The Jerusalem Beach:An elderly couple arrives in Jerusalem in search of a first memory made of snow and sea. A very emotional story about the strength of love that cannot be defeated by disease and time.
Neptune:The visit of a military journalist in a god-forsaken camp causes all Hell to break loose with tragic consequences.
The Girl Who Lived Near the Sun:A tale of intergalactic relationships, enterprises and a very special girl.
Debby’s Dream House:A man starts working in a company that constructs dreams. But nightmares are also dreams and things become worse when his girlfriend is about to slip away from him. Manufacturing dreams becomes a superpower. Elegantly dark and profound.
101.3 FM: Fixing a radio becomes a telling metaphor for the paranoia that comes with falling in love.
The Meaning of Life Ltd. : Two people understand that finding the meaning of life means absolutely nothing when compared to the joy of experiencing the moments that really matter.
Three Hours From Berlin:In one of the most moving stories I’ve ever read, a young couple is trying to create the perfect experience in the perfect virtual world. But what happens when everything becomes a race and a struggle? A poignant remark about the lies that hide behind ideal smiles and happy statuses in our “beloved” social media…
How to Remember a Desert:We all have memories we try to forget and memories we wish never faded. But do we really need someone else’s memories implanted in our brains?
“For some, this thing called living is just a bit too much. I, for instance, can tell you that I missed out on life by just a few feet. What can I say, it started out so fast that by the time I noticed, it was speeding ahead without me. You probably think this is just a bunch of hooey. That I didn’t really make an effort. But trust me, I tried, I tried harder than anyone, it just didn’t work. Nope, no two ways about it; there’s always someone who misses the last bus, and in this lifetime it happens to be my turn.”
Anita Shabtai: Another gem, another moving story of motherhood, fatherhood, the difficulty of being a skeptic, the agony of daily life. I was particularly moved by the references to Thessaloniki and the song “Jerusalem of Gold” that always brings me to tears.
Lennon at the Central Bus Station:A melancholic story about an overprotective, overreacting mother and a child who just wanted to have a pet.
Flies and Porcupines:The loss of a son turns the life of a family upside down in a heartbreaking story.
One of the finest books of the year, exceptionally translated by Daniella Zamir.
”But I’m starting to think it isn’t the country that keeps us rooted. Nor our education, friends, or family. It’s something a lot more specific, much more precise. A spot in the world that pulls us in like a magnet. ”
Many thanks to Astra House Books and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.