Dror Burstein; Todd Hasak-Lowy, trans.
  • Review
January 14, 2014

Dror Burstein’s Netanya is labeled a nov­el by the pub­lish­ers, but it is not so eas­i­ly char­ac­ter­ized. It is some­thing of a series: part med­i­ta­tion on the world around us by a per­son who was so obsessed with astron­o­my that he built a tele­scope him­self as a teen, part med­i­ta­tion on atmos­pher­ic changes on earth, part mem­oir for an uncle killed in war when the author was young, part homage to a neigh­bor­hood where he grew up and his grand­par­ents owned a hotel, and part a lov­ing descrip­tion of the author’s grand­fa­ther, a lover of lit­er­a­ture who emi­grat­ed from Poland.

Do not be put off by this blend of reminis­cence, fic­tion, and sci­ence: the author is a lover of art and gives love­ly descrip­tions of his scenes. Every metaphor holds pro­found descrip­tive weight. In speak­ing of the use of a micro­scope, Burstein’s teacher says, Per­haps it’s only we who can serve as go-between, trans­late from macro lan­guage to micro lan­guage.” This essay­is­tic nov­el does just that, serv­ing as a con­duit between the mind of the author, lying on a bench on a beach, and the rest of the world in its full­ness. In fact, the book’s ulti­mate sen­tence, All of a sud­den — real­i­ty,” could well describe the work as a whole: a sud­den immer­sion into the real­i­ty of the thoughts of anoth­er, well done and fascinating. 

Relat­ed Con­tent: Dalkey Archive Press Hebrew Lit­er­a­ture Series

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