March 15, 2009

Is America ready for a female Israeli novelist?


Gail Hareven

Gail Hareven

While there are several male Israeli novelists who have earned a readership in the US — such as David Grossman, Etgar Karet, and Amos Oz — few if any Israeli women have achieved widespread readerly recognition here. So when leading Israel novelist Gail Hareven launched a US tour last week in support of her first American publication, her novel The Confessions of Noa Weber — winner of Israel’s prestigious Sapir Award — from Melville House, she was in uncharted territory.

In an interview with David Stromberg for The Forward, she discusses her work and the novel (read an excerpt here), how being a feminist influences her fiction, and something that makes the trip to America interesting for her — that she feels she writes from a place “that is between two cultures” anyway, seeing Israel as “between” Russian and American culture: “America symbolizes a compulsive sense of being constructive, optimistic, believing in yourself, a lack of tragic feelings. Russia symbolizes the tragic sense of life, spiritual yearning, also love.”

Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House.