Novelists from conflict zones face a difficult choice: engage with the local situation at the risk of letting political specificity subsume literary possibility, or ignore it at the cost of seeming to deny the urgent truths around you. Israeli authors are perhaps more burdened than most. To be a fiction writer in Israel is almost always to have a political voice, and often to have a newspaper column too: writers in the country are trusted far more than politicians, and it is to the country’s great authors that the public (or at least the left-wing public) turns for comment on the latest atrocity.The circumstances are even more freighted when it comes to novels in translation. Regardless of whether or not the Israeli public is bored of reading about what it euphemistically refers to as the hamatzav (‘situation’), the Israeli–Palestinian conflict is perceived to sell well in Anglophone markets.
It is therefore refreshing