To the End of the Land by David Grossman
Translated by Jessica Cohen published in English 2010
[Ora, Avram and Ilan have been friends since childhood, and she has had relationships with both of them]
But the day after she told [Avram] she was pregnant, the day after he threw her out of his home and his life, Ora put on a flowing white linen dress and went onto the porch outside the house in Tzur Hadassah. She stood there displaying her full glory, of which no one else was aware yet—even her mother hadn’t noticed. She didn’t know if Ilan was in the shed, but she had the feeling she was being watched from there. At nine in the evening, after putting Adam to bed, she knocked on the shed door and Ilan opened straightaway. He was wearing the green T-shirt she liked and a pair of faded jeans she had once bought him. His bare, sinewy feet sent sparks through her. Behind his back she saw a remarkably monastic room. A cot, a desk, a chair, and a lamp. Bookshelves lined the walls. Ilan looked into her eyes and down to her still innocent-looking stomach, and the skin on his scalp stretched taut. “It’s from Avram,” she said. She thought she sounded as if she were handing him a gift and declaring who had sent it. Then she realized perhaps that was the case. He stood there amazed and confused, and she, by the force of her new power, pushed him aside and walked in.
observations: It’s a commitment to take on this book: it is long and thoughtful, and although it is not difficult to read, you need to concentrate to follow the events and try to work out the time scheme. The framework is a hike across Israel by Ora and Avram, while they discuss all that happened in their lives, and sometimes the book feels like a long plod and too much hard work. There are hanging threads – like Sami the Palestinian driver who is an important figure to begin with, but disappears completely - and sometimes it really isn’t clear when things happened and how they ended up. But you feel that you’ve got somewhere important by the end, the book is worth it. And this repeated trope lives on in the mind: ‘What did you think, Ora? What did you think when we called you and told you to take a hat and two pieces of paper? Did you really have no clue what you were drawing? And what did you secretly hope? Which name did you want to pick out of the hat?’ The afternote from the author casts its own light on the book, and would make a stone weep.
With thanks to Joanne Shellan for the recommendation.
Links up with: Anna Karenina is pregnant in a white dress too, and there are plenty of other white dresses on the blog.
The picture is PG Lady by the American artist David Fairrington; he has made it available on Flickr.