Yael Hedaya; Jes­si­ca Cohen, trans.

  • From the Publisher
November 10, 2011

From the Rohr Judges

Hedaya is known in Israel for, among oth­er achieve­ments, her writ­ing on the tele­vi­sion pro­gram In Ther­a­py,” and her sense of the kinds of small pains and lit­tle lone­li­ness­es that com­bine to make a life less ful­filled is aching in its pow­er. Rich­ly drawn char­ac­ters and slow, almost musi­cal move­ment toward con­nec­tions they make, con­nec­tions they miss, and those they make once more, com­bine for a lux­u­ri­at­ing read. The ele­ments of the nov­el – a wid­ow­er, his daugh­ter, a new poten­tial love inter­est, their mutu­al careers as writ­ers, their suc­cess­es and fail­ures at same – will not nec­es­sar­i­ly sur­prise the read­er, but their ele­gant com­bi­na­tion will delight. This is a nov­el with few explic­it men­tions of Jew­ish­ness, locat­ing any Jew­ish iden­ti­ty it has is the char­ac­ters’ Israeli iden­ti­ties. Nor is it an Israeli nov­el that focus­es on what Israelis call the sit­u­a­tion.” Rather, it is a nov­el of peo­ple, who they are, and what they want: and it is an excel­lent exam­ple of the type.

Yael Hedaya On…

How She (does­n’t) Write

For me, writ­ing is more about the wash­ing machine than the com­put­er. When I write, I find myself look­ing for end­less dis­trac­tions: Chores, step­ping out to buy tooth­paste and com­ing home five hours lat­er, or this urge I get only when I have to start a new book, to clean out the glove com­part­ment, or: If I hap­pen to actu­al­ly be sit­ting in front of the com­put­er – which is rare – I’ll take numer­ous surf breaks to look up exot­ic recipes on the inter­net, but my all time favorite dis­trac­tion is laun­dry. Oh, how I love dirty clothes when I’m work­ing on a book, and if there aren’t any, I’ll ambush any orphaned, unsus­pect­ing, (and clean) sock, and throw it into the machine for a pri­vate, very long cycle, so that I can kneel in front of the wash­er and stare at it get­ting trashed about in the suds, feel­ing guilty for wast­ing all that water and ener­gy, but not half as guilty for not doing what I was sup­posed to be doing in the first place.

Her Inspi­ra­tion for Writ­ing Fiction

Inspi­ra­tion is a tricky word. When I was a child, and lat­er in my teens, I’d be inspired and heav­i­ly influ­enced by EVERY­THING I read, Kaf­ka, Dos­toyevsky, who of course, I couldn’t under­stand, as well as labels on cere­al box­es and the phone directory. 

Words total­ly did it” for me. Not only was I a com­pul­sive read­er; I used to talk out loud to myself until my father told me only lunatics do this. Maybe that’s why I start­ed writ­ing, not know­ing yet that writ­ing is per­haps a more struc­tured, styl­ized form of insanity.

Discussion Questions