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EDEN by Yael Hedaya Kirkus Star


by Yael Hedaya & translated by Jessica Cohen

Pub Date: Oct. 26th, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-8050-9265-3
Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Call it Peyton Place with Uzis: Israeli novelist Hedaya finds the worm in an exceedingly shiny apple.

Best known for writing the Israeli TV series and HBO import In Treatment, Hedaya shows a marked fascination in the way people think—or, often, fail to think. Of one character, Alona, he writes, by way of example, “Her mind had wandered to two different places, as if she were walking two dogs, each pulling in the opposite direction.” Alona has reason to be confused. Like the other residents of the gated community of Eden, a place set off from the lesser denizens of Israeli society but not entirely free of them, she’s a mess: her soon-to-be-ex-husband is always around; one of her teenage kids is a budding sexpot and boozer in training; and her other kid wallows in depression. Or maybe not. “He’s not depressed, says Mark, her estranged spouse. "On the contrary, Alona, he’s flourishing. You just can’t see it.” Mark’s got troubles of his own, but at least the Italian restaurant he recently opened “at the edge of the moshav, right in the woods, on land the council had agreed to lease to him practically for free” has a chance of surviving. Daughter Roni, on the other hand, seems bent on self-destruction, though she harbors a not-so-secret desire to get pregnant. So does Dafna, their neighbor, who has tried every method of fertilization that science has to offer. And so it is in Eden, a place of intertwining lives founded by Holocaust survivors as a socialist farming collective, now devolved into a California-style sea of one- and two-story pastel bungalows and mini-mansions, where nothing much happens—but when it does, it speaks to the baser instincts of humans. Just so, Hedaya’s novel moves from page to page without much action but with plenty of mutual misunderstanding and miscommunication—
the very stuff, in other words, of life.

A graceful exploration of loneliness, “their true covenant,” and the worm that gnaws at the heart of all things.