Sam Kitchener

Once Upon a Time

One Night, Markovitch


Pushkin Press 384pp £10 order from our bookshop

The Fishermen


One 304pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

Waiting for the Electricity


Duckworth & Co 336pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

Ayelet Gundar-Goshen’s debut, One Night, Markovitch, is set during one of the more controversial periods of the 20th century – the transition from the British Mandate in Palestine to the state of Israel – but it treats history as a series of thunderous whims and passionate attachments. It’s the sort of book where the feelings of native Arabs towards their homeland are understood through reference to a character’s own romantic yearning – ‘Just as he would smell Sonya’s orange scent wherever he went, these people would smell the oranges, the citrus fruits and olives and grapevines that had been theirs, for generations to come.’

Settlers Yaacov Markovitch and Zeev Feinberg are recruited into a scheme where young Jewish bachelors help young Jewish women escape from Nazi-dominated Poland or Germany by marrying them and bringing them back to Palestine. The idea is that the couples will then divorce upon arrival. Markovitch, however, by nature a cautious, unremarkable chap, married, through luck of the draw, to the beautiful Bella Zeigerman, refuses to grant her a divorce, and the book follows the legacy of this and other decisions that seem to span both human strength and frailty.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'One of the reasons for its longevity is that it has virtually nothing to say about science and technology at all,… ,
    • 'The characters in many of these stories are trapped in the obsessive present tense of their own thoughts; in the m… ,
    • 'Libraries, for much of their existence, have embodied in microcosm many of the characteristics of the totalitarian… ,
    • 'Moss and Cynthia buy several properties through which to launder their ill-gotten gains, take lots of drugs, have… ,
    • 'Never mind the imperial cult. This is the cult of Boris. What happened to Rome?' From the LR archive:… ,
    • Thirty-two years ago this month, we published Muriel Spark's short story, 'A Playhouse Called Remarkable' Read it… ,
    • Time travel, bicycles and white horses populate @WomackPhilip's roundup of children's books by @marcussedgwick,… ,