This heart-warming, charming and clever first novel dips into the lives of each of the inhabitants of a village in Israel.
It is 1995 and Noa and Amir, a student couple, have decided to move in together. Noa is studying photography in Jerusalem and Amir is a psychology student in Tel Aviv. They choose a small apartment in a village in the hills, midway between the two cities.
Originally called El-Kastel, the village was emptied of its Arab inhabitants in 1948 and is now the home of Jewish immigrants from Kurdistan. Not far from the apartment lives a family grieving for their eldest son who was killed in Lebanon. The younger brother left behind, Yotam, forgotten by his parents, turns to Amir for support.
Further down the street, Saddiq watches the house while he works at a building site. He knows that this house is the one from which his family was driven by the Jews when he was a boy, and to which his mother still has a rusty key. Despite friendships that develop and lives that become entwined, tensions among this melting pot of characters seem to be rising to the surface.
This enchanting and irresistible novel offers us windows into the characters’ lives. Each comes from somewhere different but we gradually see that there’s much about them that’s the same. Homesick is a beautiful and moving story about history, love, family and the true meaning of home.
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Eshkol Nevo was born in Jerusalem in 1971 and spent his childhood in Israel and Detroit. Homesick was awarded the Book Publishers’ Association’s Golden Book Prize (2005).From Publishers Weekly:
Starred Review. In his second book in English translation, popular Israeli novelist Nevo pays tribute to the dynamism of his country, honing in on a handful of neighbors in the town of Mevasseret, just outside Jerusalem, whose Arab inhabitants were displaced in 1948. The novel is narrated from multiple perspectives; each intense personality describes the struggle to embrace the tension of everyday life in Israel and come to terms with the law of the preservation of sadness. Noa and Amir are a young couple—he a psychology student and she a photography student—adjusting to life together under the same roof; landlords Moshe and Sima in the apartment next door clash over the appropriate religious upbringing of their children. Across the lot a family mourns the loss of a son to the war in Lebanon, and nearby, the Arab Madmonis family faces prejudice on a daily basis. While death and social isolation hover over many scenes, Nevo masterfully explores the dualities of life in Israel, and delicately draws out the hope and love submerged in the hearts of its citizens. (Apr.)
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