Trieste

 

 

Trieste

By Amir Gutfreund

Translated from Hebrew by Jessica Cohen

 

 

He is an old man. Years ago, when he first came here, he thought it would be different. In the restaurant where he ate his first meal, he stayed on to work as a waiter. The owner, Gabriel, tied an apron around his waist and sent him to clean tables. Now, after thirty-five years, they despise one another. At the end of a profitable evening long ago, Gabriel whispered to him that one day he would pass on the restaurant to his most loyal employee, since his sons were studying architecture far away and scorned the restaurant business. But later, unnerved, they returned from their studies, grabbed their aprons and seized the management.
 
Gabriel is not yet dead, and every day he descends the twenty steps from his apartment to the restaurant. His morning coffee and roll await him on a table. Thirty-five years, and still, since his first day here, Gabriel gives him the privilege of serving the owner his first meal of the day.
 
Every night he is the last to leave, and the restaurant closes up and becomes an answerless riddle. The first to arrive in the morning, he inserts the key into the lock to unravel it. The kitchen workers arrive shortly thereafter, then the waiters. Gabriel comes down, sips his coffee, and berates the sleepy waiters.
 
The dawn hours are kind to him. Red stoves, heat, and somnolence. The coffee percolating through the employees’ blood fills the restaurant with good spirits. All day long they look only to him, listen only to his utterances: he decides and he rules.
 
At lunchtime he leaves for a long, boundless break. No one knows when he will return, and the restaurant goes on without him, moving anxiously from one diner to the next. Something unseen falters without him, something cold lies in the ovens and invades the dishes. The waiters scurry around, trying to fill the void.
 
Upon his appearance in the doorway, everyone breathes a sigh of relief: peace, prosperity and welfare restored. No one dares ask where he has been. Even Gabriel does not approach him as he removes his coat and hat and ties on his apron. In between the wasteland of morning and the wilderness of afternoon, he retains one clear entitlement—to disappear.
 
They do not know much about him. Thirty-five years, and his secrets still lie in a dark and glistening heap of unseen depths. They do not know where he goes, they do not know where he lives, and they do not know what pictures hang on his walls.
 
The lunch breaks are a ceremony, a ritual. First he dines. He is incapable of eating a thing at Gabriel’s restaurant, preferring any other venue instead. Every day he walks endless streets, around and around, traversing great distances until he tires. Then, a hungry nomad, he selects a restaurant to feed him. After his meal, he goes off in search of a different café where he may drink his coffee. Thirty-five years in one city, and still he has no regular place where everyone knows him and where his coffee is served cheerfully.
No.
 
He orders coffee and sits by the window. No one knows his thoughts, no one needs to. He understands: this will be his life. After the coffee he must keep walking, study the city, contemplate, destroy the ponderings of yesterday.
 
Sometimes he lingers opposite the schoolyard. After school is over, the noisy children play, their bags in a heap nearby. Thank your God, children, that you do not need alcohol, or tobacco, or caffeine, or the tender feet of a woman. Thank your God and do not fear.
 
As for him, he has nothing to do with our God.
 
He was once a painter, a young boy with a future ahead of him, in a smaller city, in another country, at the edge of an empire carved out of princesses’ ivory. His body crawled slowly toward the future, a healthy, strong body, trembling at the pleasure of time’s touch. But in a remote region of his body – at the edges of his heels, for example – the stagnation began, a rigidity signaling that what awaited was not a happy adulthood but war, refugee status, desperation, and at the end of everything, a distant city. He played with his friends and studied his books, but at the edges of his heels it was all already known. They had already registered thirty-five years in a small, foreign city, in another country too kind to refuse the refugees who arrived drop by drop from the East.
 
Thirty-five years, a waiter. Every day, the shift goes on and on. Every day he stops frequently at the door to wipe invisible sweat from his brow. One day an old wart-nosed witch will appear at the door and offer him poisoned mushrooms.
 
Thirty-five years.
 
Every day he walks the streets of the city. Every day he must sit on a bench. Always on the edge of an intersection, a square, a boulevard, a park. He treasures the trees exercising behind him in the wind, he treasures the peddlers growing older day-by-day behind their carts. A small city, foreign to him, for thirty-five years he has been following its smallest motions.
 
He sits on his bench as the passersby go about their ways. Sometimes he looks up, sometimes down. The wind blows, the devil licks at a medley of rooftops. It is good to sit here. It would be better if he were disguised, if he dared to use white powder and a clown’s face-paint. But cross-legged he sits, very feminine, his face a lamp. One-by-one the people walk by, their affairs trailing behind them, dying down the avenue like rivulets of urine.
 
Last week he saw a man carried out of his home on a stretcher, his body covered with a blanket.
 
“He shot himself,” people said.
 
“He wanted to shoot his wife,” they explained.
 
That is how it goes. The city is small, the sadness spills out of people. Death like a soft click. One day Gabriel will also be carried out of his home. After the mourning, his sons will come, speechless, frightened. They will want him to stay on. He knows what he will say.
 
Every night he gathers his thoughts under his pillow. Cat eyes turn red in the dark: It was not I who chose my memories.
 
He is a kaiser—that is his purpose and his foundation. He wanders the city streets for days and years, envelopes it, around and around, and its people are aware of his figure. He remembers a statue in his hometown, an erect horseman who cast a long shadow into the shops. He remembers narrow streets, and in the evenings, birds chirping by the statue. He remembers the art teacher walking around and around the city streets. Always slipping away, evading, walking as if in sin.
 
He is old, but he remembers—
 
On strange days the teacher would reach as far as their home, wishing to deliver a bundle of nuts or a small drawing to his pupil. He would be busy with his toys and books, or about to go play with his friends, but his father would call him to sit at their feet: Here is Bruno, son of the late Mr. Schulz, who was a fine textile man, forefather of all the fabric merchants in our town.
 
Every time he visited, the teacher-painter would present something new he had found in a shop. He always obtained delightful little objects: tobacco boxes, ivory candlesticks, silk fans, marble cubes, tin soldiers, tiny ballerinas and spring toys. He would proudly set his purchase on the table in the guest room, where it would remain standing erect while attention moved to the topics of conversation.
 
He remembers his father talking about fabric.
 
For many years the Schulzes’ moribund fabric shop drew his father’s attention, as did its owner, Mr. Jacob Schulz. On holidays, in the synagogue in Drohobycz, he would grasp Mr. Schulz’s hand and knead it with his own sticky fingers. The years scattered, the textile shop vanished, but the father was accustomed to pinning his dreams on the Schulz household. He would bring his son to Bruno, hoping he might lead him to greatness.
 
His drawings were poor. Of his technique, Bruno commented sadly, “Hopeless.” Moreover, his soul lived in a body that knew it would belong to a waiter, not an artist, so why add to the sorrow?
 
But on those pleasant nights the father would deliver him to the teacher-painter for an education. In the streets dotted with sapphire-hued stars, the teacher would carry his sleeping pupil in his arms beneath signs advertising shuttered stores. The spider-legged labyrinths of night-time Drohobycz would open wide, and finally the school building would emerge in front of them in all its glory. Through a side doorway, Bruno Schulz would take the sleeping child into the art studio. He would not turn on the light but only open the heavy drapes to let in echoes of the stars’ light. Slowly he would put his pupil down and leave him lying on his back on a work table, eyes open, while he walked around the studio, painted vast canvases, knelt in a demonstration of idolatry, kissed the edge of the cloth dangling from the desk, and stood up to discuss the greatness of Poland, the history, kings, fairies, firemen, and the monks who collected pictures of naval battles.
 
Morning would come and the teacher-painter would convince him: We shall stay, soon the students will arrive.
 
All day long the mixture of those nocturnal twinkles would fade and turn pale within him. Time would gradually spoil the lucid scenes, the pleasure of the minutes stripped of their skin. With the magnanimity of a child he would allow the nights to evaporate from his memory. Why preserve what would occur again the next day, and the day after?
 
At lunchtime, on his bench, he recalls the sapphire nights. He remembers, yet does not: blurs, and increasing blindness. The school looms large in his memory, and the starry darkness hangs before his open eyes, and the moments fold into one another. Through his mind float visions, pictures, the keels of shallow boats. Moments that the body remembers, the mind does not. The teacher-painter walks the streets of Drohobycz, backs up against the walls, apologetically enters dark shops, furtively probes for rear entrances and secrets hidden in the double walls of the shops.
 
Sometimes at night he awakens, walks to the shower, and stands under the stream until the water washes away his flesh—a time to remember, now.
 
Only here, after many years, a tenant in his new city, did he learn that the teacher-painter also wrote, and the sapphire nights descended into the belly of his stories, trapped in them like clues, like theater sets, like support pillars. In cities far from Drohobycz, in cities that did not even know of its existence, the teacher had gained fame. In Drohobycz only his paintings were known. When Bruno Schulz used to visit his father and their talk of fabrics died down, the teacher-painter would apologize and explain that he must leave to attend to his affairs. The father would motion to him and Bruno Schulz would carelessly draw, on a napkin, a curvaceous woman zipped up in boots.
 
Every day he walks, and there is not a single intersection in town that lacks a newspaper stand, and not a stand on whose walls do not hang pornographic magazines, high eroticism, boldness hungry for boundaries. He peruses the issues, which change weekly, examines the sexual colors, the women tensely fulfilling their missions. He thinks about the curvaceous, small women who flowed from Bruno’s pen, sketches his father had kept somewhere. Only once did one of the girls slip under the bureau, and he picked her up in both hands, a tall girl whose nudity lashed at his eyes. Now he examines the passing women and scorns their complicated bodies, which cannot ignite a man the way that girl did, with her triangle of womanhood.
 
This shall be life.
 
One afternoon, when Drohobycz’s artificial autumn shone like gold in the sky, Bruno Schulz took him to a recess between two house walls. “If something happens one day, this is where I will stash what I hold precious.”
 
He was then a boy, visited by tempests of the body. His only sister had married and moved to a different town with her husband. His father had died and his mother had remarried a man who made her call him “Sir.” For him, the great war came just in time.
 
He fled east, to Russia. Five years spent in camps for refugees and displaced people, under skies of snow, rivers, fears. One station and another and another. Bruno Schulz remained in Drohobycz, a ghetto wrapped around him, a town of Nazi officers and whips. The S.S. officer Felix Landau made him paint murals, illustrate posters, classify works of art and appraise decorative relics.
 
On November nineteenth, 1942, Bruno Schulz was shot. Two bullets to the back of his neck. In the ghetto they said that the man who shot him, S.S. officer Karl Günter, was repaying Felix Landau for killing a dentist under Günter’s patronage. “You killed my Jew, now I will kill your Jew.”
 
November nineteenth, 1942, Thursday, in another place, at a refugee station, a large redhead woman chose you, young boy. Day in, day out, with her body, a tempest. Your teacher is suffering and close to death, but you are on the shores of a woman, and you must be punished, insert her foot into your mouth, and if not hers, then those of all the women who will follow, forever, to search your throat for the right pain. Bruno Schulz in the Drohobycz ghetto and an ugly redhead serves you up every detail of her body: burrow, eat. Your stomach turns every Thursday. Every Thursday, your death awakens. The passion floats to the surface—vomit ’39, vomit ’40, vomit ’41, vomit ’42, November nineteenth ’42.
 
Every Thursday he copulates with a woman. Thirty-five years, the same woman. She tearfully resists: “I am old now.” And he entreats, presents gifts of wine and cheese. Sometimes her husband comes to implore him—she is old now. But he assumes the face of a kaiser and needs not explain a thing.
 
Last week he told her: “I will not come again.”
 
“I saw a dead man,” he told her, “taken out of his house. His body under a blanket.”
 
She said, “Come. Yes, do come. Next week too.” She held his arm.
 
Thirty-five years.
 
He does not explain—how can he?
 
A man taken out of his house, death affixed to him, held tightly to his body. Not hunger, not a pit of earth. The war lasted for six years. It occurred far away, and in fact it did not exist at all, because fleeing from place to place is not a war, and fear is not a war, and humiliation is not a war. A year, and another year, at transit stations, on the great journey between age thirteen and nineteen.
 
At lunchtime he sits on his bench throne. What would his life have been like if not for the war? His mother and sister are resurrected from the cesspit, wearing white silk, fine fabric. Fifty million people are resurrected, wearing their clothes. He himself graduates from the Drohobycz high school, an orphan befriended by the art teacher. Here and there a young girl holds his hand, here and there a kiss on the cheek, sometimes a letter seething with secrets. At some point, in a despicable room of promiscuity, the shadowy genitalia of a giggling woman.
 
But there was a war. Fifty million people, countries crushed, hunger, devastation. More than the war changed the world, it changed his body. When it ended he was almost twenty, a turbid sediment moving through his flesh. There was no point returning to the old house, the squares, the streets. No point going back to “You killed my Jew, now I will kill your Jew.” He passed through Drohobycz and retrieved what Bruno Schulz had had time to hide in the recess between the two walls: thirty-six drawings, oil on canvas, oil on cardboard. Packets of butter painted well and forever.
 
The roads led him to this golden, dark city, to his restaurant, to the benches. It never occurred to him to remain here. All around him was grief and destruction, American soldiers, refugees, black market criminals. He thought he would keep going to the bulging cities, the famous ones, in the center of the country. But as he sat on a bench a joyous group of American soldiers came by. In faraway Japan a bomb called the atom had been dropped from the air, ending the war throughout the world. One of the soldiers shoved a note of money into his hand and shouted something—America, victory.
 
With the bill in his hand, he walked into the nearest restaurant, handed the money to Gabriel, and ordered a meal.
 
He rented a small one-room apartment and had remained there ever since. On the walls of his room he carefully hung Bruno Schulz’s paintings. He did not imagine that one day the world would be looking for them, and that people would dedicate whole chapters of their lives to finding them, and researchers would convene at conferences, and when the conference chairman declared, “The day will come when the paintings will be found!” the auditorium would erupt into applause. He was twenty and felt happy. He found the paintings strange, not simple, and he pondered the wisdom of using what little money he had to buy so many nails. But he had just obtained a job at the restaurant. Life around him seemed poised to become good and healthy, and he would take part in it.
 
Ever since, he has ruled this city, and loved certain moments in it, every day.
 
Under the gilded, rusting flesh of its modern days, the Austro-Hungarian skeleton still beats in the city. The mantle of its houses conceal nostalgia for the great Kaiser. Sometimes, in the mornings, a mercurial mist rises from the sea, heavy like the seagulls. Sometimes, at night, its streets ride a fog, like a grey desert kissing the edges of the streetlamps. But it never becomes Drohobycz, and a pact lies between him and it—it must not become Drohobycz, ever.
 
The city obeys. All its details are cautious, evading the outlines of the dead city. After so many years he still occasionally spots the snout of an old house, or a shape where two streets meet, and they sparkle in his memory. But the city corrects itself and Drohobycz is slowly erased. In his home are thirty-six oil paintings, an old world hanging on the walls. Outside, the city of light stops at the sea. Its streets climb up to the top of a hill where an enfeebled fortress sits. On all sides of the fortress the streets wind their way down, sprouting alleys like malt. Every alley has pockets of commerce, dim recesses, and shadowy trees. Here and there, among apartments shining with light, hide institutions of immorality, a mass of human existence. Lanterns hang above the doors like horses bending over to drink. Inside, helpless men kneel down before women who hold out their long legs and delve into the men, all the way to the brink of their kidneys, their toes in silk stockings. The men take them into their hearts by force, take them in to the point of destruction.
 
He knows them, these men who come seeking shattered pleasures, the men who go to the house of ill repute to find their childhoods. He knows the sunken eyes, in which no joy can make light. Thirty-five years, and still he finds it surprising that he does not see his teacher-painter among the men slipping through the door. Such treasures he has missed here, with his miserable death in the ghetto, in a war that has been enfolded in books at the public library. Members of his sex who are born and who live are entitled to meet these women who generously consider every plea—and him? On the pavement in Drohobycz, shot twice. Where were the angels, the prophets of Israel, the ancient kings of Judah, when the Nazi pulled his pistol? Where were they until the two shots were fired. “You killed my Jew, now I will kill your Jew.”
 
He blames the seconds that passed futilely, those treacherous little seconds in the red shoes of a woman. Every day on his bench he summons them up from the dead, from the netherworld of moments past. They stand in a row, disgraced. Like streetwalkers in the morning light, their appearance is miserable as they submissively hold out their lips to kiss whatever is willing to be kissed.
 
And where were you, esteemed teacher? You, so skilled at pleading, at sinking under a commanding hand—how did you surrender? In the final moment were you filled with desire for a submission more profound, more decisive? For the pleasure of sprawling below without rising?
 
Sometimes Bruno Schulz appears in his dreams. In the dreams he grows stronger and becomes a young woman. His red hair cascades, his legs are thin, his bare breasts soft and modest. He demands his paintings in a weeping voice. He speaks in beautiful Polish, in long-forgotten words that appear as glorious, tempestuous figures. It is as if he has been practicing his speech for many years, and each time he polishes another sentence he comes back to terrify his pupil.
 
Even during afternoon naps on his bench, Bruno Schulz sometimes seizes him and begs, demands—Give back the paintings!
 
I shall not.
 
At the restaurant he grips the chair backs, the wooden counters. The pictures are mine, I will not return them.
 
He asks the teacher: Why did you not flee east when the war broke out? You could have escaped, you could have left your family, do not say you couldn’t have.
 
Bruno Schulz visits him to bring him sorrow, to bring him melancholy. You betrayed, and so you will serve people for the rest of your life. First courses, last courses. A dessert of lips, teeth, and the sounds of chewing.
 
He walks every day among the restaurant tables, following an efficient track in which the economy
of motion has been polished to the point of pain. He serves diners the travails of his conscience, his smiles, his flesh. Every day the dishes emerge from pots and pans, and every day he labors to serve them, sliced and diced and steaming. He was once a young man in a new city. People told him—we’ll drink coffee together, we’ll be friends. Women breezed past him. The world said—you, too, shall have a family.
 
No.
 
Every day just like the last one, precisely replicating each single hour. In the morning the restaurant opens, at night it shuts. Routine crosses over bridges, carried like panes of glass. Only Thursday erupts like a sword, swallowed utterly by a woman. When he was eight days old his parents circumcised him, and then Bruno Schulz circumcised him, and then the war circumcised him, and now he is circumcised by life, by the knives of Thursday.
 
He looks at Gabriel every day: You are old, too, but you have a house and sons. There were days when I thought you would be my friend. I thought you would be a kaiser sympathetic to a weary subject.
 
Once he said to Gabriel: “In my home I have a treasure. Priceless paintings.” Gabriel laughed: “And yet you’re a waiter?”
 
At that moment a great river of hatred burst forth—he hated Gabriel. Hated. Speaking to him was declared a danger, and forests of trees were planted between them, with streams running through, and thorny blood-red bushes. Gabriel must be stopped.
 
Gabriel is aging, still clutching an apron, but his figure is distant, like a picture hanging respectfully on a wall. The menu is set by the sons, and they come to him, the loyal employee, and get down on their knees to beg, to ask: What is missing? What should we add? What would give the menu force? Only he has the wisdom, the valor, to fire employees, hire new ones, promote others. On Thursdays, in her bed, the woman knows that a kaiser lies in her arms. Thirty-five years and still she whispers, explaining: “I was young… there was hunger after the war.” On Thursdays he longs to give her his treasures, and he longs to kill her. Thirty-five years of nights spent in a room so confined, lost in spasms. How beautiful the dawn, how bluish the city where the cold is damp.
 
He told her, “I will not come again,” and decided he would. His routine takes him over bridges, rigid and decisive. He is old and will yet grow older, but the paintings are his. There was a war, and Drohobycz never rose from it. The darkness gave rise to substitutes, and when peace came they said, Here is Drohobycz, your town. Here in the square you played, here stood the butcher’s sad shop.
 
No.
 
Sometimes he looks at the paintings. At nights the figures multiply, people and houses, characters the teacher-painter formed long ago on the canvas. The houses of Drohobycz, which never existed there. Its people, who never lived.
 
He remembers a market in Drohobycz. Behind a stall stands the teacher-painter, his eyes gazing down at a young peasant woman. Behind them stands a farmer with furious eyes, dragging a dead chicken by its scruff. “Kobieta,” the farmer spits out.
 
He remembers. Kobieta.
 
The bookshop where two streets cross displays the teacher-painter’s book, converted from Polish into the language that took him in mercifully. At lunch breaks he stands facing the store window. Little stitches from the stomach downward, grey walls on the sides of his throat, a yearning to be sick, to rest. Sometimes the bookseller comes out, bows to the kaiser, smiles and asks, “Is your honor acquainted with the writer Bruno Schulz?”
 
He forgives her. She says, “I can talk about him for hours.” And she does.
 
Then he causes himself to be forgotten, and the next day he stands by the window, she comes out, she smiles, “Is your honor acquainted with…” She tells him about Drohobycz, and the lost oil paintings, and about “You killed” and “Now I will kill,” and about the great novel Bruno Schulz wrote, The Messiah, and how the world searches for it.
 
He knows—Bruno Schulz hid the book in the recess between the walls and revealed its secret location to someone else, another child, a person anguishing and aging in some other small city, at nights turning a trembling hand through crumpled, yellowing pages covered with tiny insects, moths, keeping the book and knowing that he is being slowly punished his whole life, but he will never give up the book.
 
On Thursdays, Bruno Schulz comes to ignite the terrors in him. On Thursdays the Polish language surges, Bruno Schulz fades behind it and it emerges alone, not needing flesh and blood. The language not needed by anyone here, bayoneted letters, words, prayers. Uncomfortable thoughts dragged out. Memories, trivia, things he had forgotten, and the Polish draws them out, plucking and ripping. On Thursdays his old language alters the city. It grows young girls and women with dogs in the streets, and they become letters and they approach him. The shop windows reflect the sapphire nights, childhood, war, and he feels a tightness, his internal organs long to float, to take part in this illogic. Only on the bay, near the blue sunlit sea, does the strength of Polish weaken, wandering like an extinguished spirit, pushing its nose under abandoned papers.
 
On Thursdays he hunches his shoulders and walks secretively against invisible winds to the woman’s street. The narrow houses rub up against his body, singeing his skin. His stride is too rigid for the delicate body. On Thursdays he tightens his fists around bookshops, and window displays slip through his fingers. On Thursdays he walks down streets that anticipate his touch, in a city that grows small and smaller until it becomes a woman.
 
Last night he came to the woman. On her narrow street stood a new place, a shop-like structure, with a display window in whose center sat an elderly man, painting. How do you say “old man” in Polish? Starzec. How do you say “cold?” There was lettering on the window: “Painting workshop,” and beneath that, “Night classes. Children welcome.” Elderly people sat crowded along the width of the window, floating paintbrushes over canvases. On a heavy easel sat a taxidermied vulture with a huge beak, its wings bandaged to its shoulders. Soundlessly the paintbrushes moved, wetting the canvas, wearily reproducing the vulture’s figure.
 
Where were the children?
 
He walked with aging steps and stood close to the display window, wanting to touch, to ruin. Where were the children?
 
The depths of the store are lined with elderly people. Their waves of hair whiten in a hidden breeze, their faces taut and steady, tranquility envelopes their skulls. Where is the teacher?
 
A white cold vapor hovers, the wheel of the store embroiled in darkness.
 
From the corner of his eye, in an angle that does not exist and does not disappear, he sees a boy huddled among the tables with a lump of coal in his fist. The boy hesitates. He does not know how to draw the vulture’s head and never will. He does not know—a war will come.
 
He stands facing the night class. Behind him the street slopes down, flowing and disappearing between hollow houses, all the way to the sea that slams the city shut. He will turn around and leave, in just another moment.
 
He will walk down the sidewalks to the sea.
 
Carefully, downhill, with feeble steps. Do not punish me, do not punish me any longer. How do you say “deathly silence” in Polish? Smiertelna cisza. How do you say “cold”? Soft-sounding steps until the end of the street, until the edge of the square, which draws a street into its innards. At the crossroads, a circle of shops. Breathe. Breathe lightly. He remembers the teacher-painter kneeling down and saying, On this canvas I will paint a woman. He remembers soft steps and a murmur. How do you say “canvas”? Płótno. How do you say “woman”? Kobieta.
 
He will leave now. The cleansing baths of time will take him, and he will go. His memory is like melted crystal.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Copyright © Amir Gutfreund 2013
This translation to English, by Jessica Cohen, is used with permission of The Toby Press LLC © 2013.
“Trieste” is from a collection of stories called Shoreline Mansions, originally published inHebrew by Zmora-Bitan.
 
Amir Gutfreund was born in Haifa in 1963, a son of Holocaust survivors. He has an M.Sc. in applied mathematics, and served as an officer in the Israeli Air Force for twenty years. He lives with his family in a small village in northern Israel. His first novel, Our Holocaust, won the 2001 Buchman Prize from the Yad Vashem Institute, and was translated into German, English, and French. The English version won the Sami Rohr Choice Award in 2007. Shoreline Mansions (2002) won the 2003 Sapir Prize (the Israeli “Booker”), and has been partly translated into English. A film is being made based on one of the stories. His other novels are The World, A Moment Later (2005), Heroes Fly For Her (2008), and  A Mercenary and Winter Buds (Mazal Orev) in February 2013.
 
Jessica Cohen (the translator) was born in England, raised in Israel, and has lived in the U.S. since 1997. She translates contemporary Israeli fiction, non-fiction and other creative works. Her translations include David Grossman’s critically acclaimed To the End of The Land, and works by Yael Hedaya, Ronit Matalon, Amir Gutfreund and Tom Segev. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Financial Times, Tablet Magazine, Words Without Borders, and Two Lines.


 

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