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by Ronit Matalon ; translated by Jessica Cohen

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-939931-75-7
Publisher: New Vessel Press

On her wedding day, a bride locks herself in her bedroom.

Margie and Matti are supposed to be getting married, but Margie has locked the door to her bedroom and won’t respond to anyone who tries to speak with her. Matti and his parents gather outside along with Margie’s mom, Nadia, her cousin, Ilan, and her grandmother. “Well,” says Arieh, Matti’s father, “not to worry. So she won’t talk. She doesn’t have to. The bride does not have to talk, as far as I recall.” But Margie won’t unlock the door, either, and the hours are passing. The caterer keeps calling, and soon the wedding guests will begin to assemble. Matalon (The Sound of Our Steps, 2015, etc.), an award-winning Israeli writer who died in 2017, describes Margie’s situation with great humor as well as pathos. At first, Matti is desperate to get that door open. “Margie!” he shouts. “Do you even care what I’m going through with this whole mess you’ve made?” But as the hours pass, Matti himself starts to feel more and more ambivalent about their wedding. Margie slips an ambiguous poem under the door, but it does little to clarify things—in fact, throughout the book, Margie is the one character who remains silent. Everyone else, meanwhile, is in an uproar. The chaos is reminiscent of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, but Jewish, and backwards: This bride doesn’t want to go through with things. Matti’s parents call an organization known as “Reluctant Brides,” which sends over a psychologist. Darker undertones become visible; apparently Margie had a younger sister, Natalie, who disappeared years earlier. Matalon’s last novel is a whirlwind of family chaos and comedy, humor but also great feeling. If the comedy occasionally slips too far into caricature, there’s enough charm here to make up for that, and more besides.

Family secrets bubble to the surface in this deeply felt comedy.