Some Day

She­mi Zarhin; Yardenne Greenspan, trans.
  • Review
By – October 15, 2013

Two sev­en-year-olds — a sex­u­al­ly preco­cious girl and a con­fused boy — are lying on a roof, watch­ing the corpse of the girl’s father being pulled out of her home through a win­dow. This sets the scene for the sprawl­ing sto­ry, told over fif­teen years in three inter­vals, of Shlo­mi and Ella and their fate­ful­ly inter­twined fam­i­lies and dra­ma-infused lives.

Fueled by food and sex, Some Day is a rich stew to which each char­ac­ter adds a distinc­tive fla­vor — long­ing, sor­row, lust, silence, jeal­ousy, anger, love. These emo­tions cre­ate a heady aro­ma that lingers over the lives of the char­ac­ters, suf­fus­ing the present with unmis­tak­able scents of the past. Past feeds into present so that it is almost a vari­a­tion of the past. Anoth­er aspect of Some Day is revealed in its rhythms. Shlomi’s moth­er has a pas­sion for poet­ry, and at times Some Day echoes poet­ic forms — a bal­lad with incre­mental rep­e­ti­tions, the details of the refrains chang­ing but the actions haunt­ing­ly famil­iar; irreg­u­lar rhymes cre­at­ed from odd cou­plings; breaks in the nar­ra­tive, like pat­terned poems; strik­ing and star­tling images.

Unlike much Israeli fic­tion avail­able in Eng­lish, Some Day does not have as its back­ground Israel’s pol­i­tics or his­to­ry. Clear­ly the sto­ry is set in Israel, with inter­est­ing asides about the some­times spar­ring groups that are Israeli soci­ety, but this is an earthy and high­ly dis­cur­sive nov­el touched with inter­ludes of fan­ta­sy. And then an unex­pect­ed blast launch­es it into reality.

The first nov­el of the not­ed Israeli film direc­tor and pro­duc­er She­mi Zarhin, Some Day is told in vivid scenes and char­ac­ters that ulti­mate­ly come togeth­er in a sto­ry that is both human and unre­al. The read­er is drawn in by unlike­ly hap­pen­ings and idio­syn­crat­ic char­ac­ters but in the end comes to care about what the future — some day — holds for them.

Relat­ed Con­tent: New Ves­sel Press: Great Books in New Ves­sels by Maron L. Waxman

Maron L. Wax­man, retired edi­to­r­i­al direc­tor, spe­cial projects, at the Amer­i­can Muse­um of Nat­ur­al His­to­ry, was also an edi­to­r­i­al direc­tor at Harper­Collins and Book-of-the-Month Club.

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