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.
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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.