Page 33 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 36

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RIBALOW / ISRAEL IN AMERICAN FICTION
has written fine essays17 on Hebrew writers. In recent years he
has turned to fiction. His first novel,
The Yemenite Girl,
de-
scribes the efforts of a translator who coines to Israel to meet
with a noted Hebrew writer he admires. Leviant utilizes his
background to limn Israel’s culture, the politics of awarding
prizes, and the jealousies and conflicts involving Israeli authors.
It is a clever book, humorous, self-deprecating and, at the same
time, full of knowledge of the land, its terrain and its people.
Perhaps the best books American Jews can write about Israel
will be written mainly by those authors who understand He-
brew and are grounded in Judaism, Jewish lore and history.
The Yemenite Girl
could be written only by such a Jew. It is
to be hoped that in the future years—as Israel moves onward
from its 30th anniversary of Statehood—creative fiction will
reflect both internal developments and changes in the country,
as well as understanding by those who live outside the borders
of the land but care about it and its people.
17 Particularly on Agnon, after the noted Hebrew writer won the Nobel
Prize.
The Yemenite Girl’s
“great Hebrew writer” is clearly based on
Agnon. Other characters in the book are recognizable to those familiar
with the Hebrew cultural scene.