Even in the Holy Land, people find ingenious ways to screw up their own lives, as the latest entry in Akashic’s Noir series proves.
Tel Aviv is a modern city in an ancient land. It has clubs where 20-year-olds like Essy and Danielle, in Julie Fermentto’s “Who’s a Good Boy!,” get drunk, bum cigarettes from strangers and look for love in all the wrong places. It has technology, like the electronic surveillance in Silje Bekeng’s “Swirl” and the computer Gideon Tzuk uses to watch pornography in Gon Ben Ari’s “Clear Recent History,” unaware that it’s watching him back. But its heartbeat is its people, looking to thrive or maybe just survive. In “Sleeping Mask,” by Gadi Taub, Shiri takes a new look at the world’s oldest profession to clear her father’s gambling debts. Srulik, in co-editor Gavron’s “Center,” switches between construction work when it’s sunny and private investigation when it rains. In Yoav Katz’s “The Tour Guide,” an entrepreneur offers tourists a look at famous crime scenes. And Margalit Bloch supplements her meager income after her husband’s death by selling off the possessions of people who died without heirs in Gai Ad’s “The Expendables.” Most touching are the people just looking to connect, like the grocery clerk who makes dinner for a customer in Deakla Keydar’s “Slow Cooking,” the barista who serves mineral water to the Grim Reaper in Alex Epstein’s “Death in Pajamas,” the hashish peddler who falls in love with a Russian thug’s sister in Antonio Ungar’s “Saïd the Good,” or the couple whose lives are turned inside out by their finicky dog in co-editor Keret’s “Allergies.”
Editors Keret and Gavron stress not what makes Tel Aviv unique but what it has in common with other cities: its people’s endless, often fruitless struggle to cash in on a losing hand.