The Hid­den of Things: Twelve Sto­ries of Love & Longing

Yael Unter­man
  • Review
September 18, 2014

For fans of good lit­er­ary fic­tion set in Jerusalem and of the same ilk as the hit Israeli tele­vi­sion series Srugim, there is a won­der­ful new short sto­ry col­lec­tion, The Hid­den of Things: Twelve Sto­ries of Love and Long­ing by the UK-born, Jerusalem-based writer Yael Unter­man. Unter­man writes about the lives and emo­tions of a group of sin­gles in a way that is inter­est­ing even to long-mar­ried review­ers like this one. 

The book opens with a clever descrip­tion of a dat­ing web­site and ends with a futur­is­tic odyssey to the dat­ing scene of the future, com­plete with Instashop,” an app to deliv­er goods instant­ly; Space­book”; and of course the dat­ing site with required mem­ber­ship for all Jews above eigh­teen, MegaShid­duch­Mart”. But all the sto­ries, like the finale in the Upper West Side of Man­hat­tan in 2029, are about the striv­ing and yearn­ing for authen­tic con­nec­tion with God and other.”

Such con­nec­tion isn’t always so easy to find, Unter­man writes in Cold Date,” the open­ing sto­ry, set in 1999: What a cru­el joke, this mis­match of desire, this unmet reach­ing out for con­nec­tion, a prank played by God on inno­cent men and women.” The char­ac­ters in these sto­ries, most­ly Ang­los liv­ing in the Kata­mon neigh­bor­hood of Jerusalem, have to cope with many obsta­cles. The dif­fer­ent lan­guage and cul­ture of Israel and Israelis, meet­ing guys on army reserve duty, and the ways in which reli­gious dif­fer­ences cre­ate issues are all sub­jects for her characters.

One of the many plea­sures of read­ing this col­lec­tion of sto­ries is their vari­ety. The sto­ry Kata­monista” is made up entire­ly of blog post­ings by one char­ac­ter whose clever and allur­ing voice makes the con­ceit work. Anoth­er sto­ry, Sweet Dream­er,” is about the ways in which a char­ac­ter relates to the pro­files of men she meets online, and the dan­gers of dig­i­tal con­nec­tions: Email dis­torts things, espe­cial­ly for peo­ple with a lot of imag­i­na­tion, like you. It hides what’s real and implies what’s not.”

For­tu­nate­ly for read­ers, Unter­man has uncov­ered much about the undis­tort­ed feel­ings of reli­gious sin­gles. Enjoy, laugh, and empathize.

Relat­ed Content:


Read Beth Kissilef­f’s inter­view with Yael Unter­man here.

Discussion Questions