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Homesick (Hebrew Literature Series) Paperback – April 20, 2010

4.4 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In his second book in English translation, popular Israeli novelist Nevo pays tribute to the dynamism of his country, honing in on a handful of neighbors in the town of Mevasseret, just outside Jerusalem, whose Arab inhabitants were displaced in 1948. The novel is narrated from multiple perspectives; each intense personality describes the struggle to embrace the tension of everyday life in Israel and come to terms with the law of the preservation of sadness. Noa and Amir are a young couple—he a psychology student and she a photography student—adjusting to life together under the same roof; landlords Moshe and Sima in the apartment next door clash over the appropriate religious upbringing of their children. Across the lot a family mourns the loss of a son to the war in Lebanon, and nearby, the Arab Madmonis family faces prejudice on a daily basis. While death and social isolation hover over many scenes, Nevo masterfully explores the dualities of life in Israel, and delicately draws out the hope and love submerged in the hearts of its citizens. (Apr.)
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From Booklist

Shifting characters and perspectives, this multilayered novel looks at the lives of a handful of neighbors in the small Israeli town of Mevasseret. It’s 1995 and Amir, a college student studying psychology in Tel Aviv, and Noa, a photography student attending classes in Jerusalem, move together into a small apartment. A passionate couple, they nonetheless find themselves struggling to adjust to their new life in the same room. Their landlords, Sima and Moshe, share the thin walls in the apartment next door, and their marriage is tested when they disagree on the religious upbringing of their two young children. A few houses away, a family is devastated over the death of their eldest son. The neglected brother, Yotam, finds solace in a budding friendship with the introspective Amir. And there is the mysterious Arab construction worker determined to return to his childhood home after being displaced along with the village’s other Arab inhabitants in 1948. Nevo’s characters are diverse, yet their desires, histories, and interactions blend seamlessly to create an engrossing portrait of a restless community. --Leah Strauss
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Product Details

  • Series: Hebrew Literature Series
  • Paperback: 374 pages
  • Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press (April 20, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1564785823
  • ISBN-13: 978-1564785824
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #155,415 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I bought this book as I was looking for a book in English (as I can't read Hebrew) about every day people living in Israel since I've been visiting Israel. I wanted to get more of a feel for the people and their lives. plus I've been feeling homesick for my own country and home. many of the places and things mentioned in the book were very familiar to me since my stay here and the characters seem like friends now. at first I found it hard to work out who was speaking as all the characters say "I" - they are each telling their own story in first person throughout the book. once I got used to this the characters grew on me. I loved the simple details mentioned in the book about everyday life and I have a mental picture about them living their lives now. I'll be keeping an eye out for more books by the author as I really enjoyed this one and recommend it to anyone who would like to read about life in Israel (ie not the media-portrayed view of Israel)
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This novel requires courage to read since the "ideological" freight might be heavy for some readers, my fellow Americans. Originally published in Hebrew, in Israel, in 2004, this novel may be hard to find in the U.S. (The copy I have is a 2008 English translation, Vintage U.K. Random House.) I wanted to read this novel, Homesick, ever since I first heard about it in a review in the London Times Literary Supplement.) The fact that the author is Jewish and native to Israel interested me--and I'd never read a novel set in Israel--but also because there is a Muslim Arab character, Saddiq, a construction worker who is hardly in the novel but his presence is everywhere--which I will explain. The setting is a small village, Mevasseret or "Castel," halfway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. The geography as a setting plays no role in this novel, and I think the reader will see that the novel is about the psychological landscape and the two or three houses in which the action unfolds.

The energy of the novel circulates around the personal and interpersonal conflicts of two couples living in a partitioned house, so close that they can hear the arguments--and other things--and smell the cooking. One couple, about 30-ish, has been married seven or eight years, Sima and Moshe Zakian; they are renting out a smaller portion of their house to the younger unmarried couple, Noa, a photography student, and Amir, a psychology student. Also crucial are Moshe's parents, living upstairs, the 70-ish Avram and Gina.

In a way, this is Noa's novel, the female photography student who looks for homesickness in everyone's face--including Arab residents.
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I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. I found the characters engaging and authentic. Their issues and conflicts were interesting and relatable. Since the novel takes place in Israel in the 1990's it did give a taste of life in modern Israel, but the main thrust of the novel was the very human and universal emotions and dilemmas of the various characters. The ultimate resolutions for the protagonists were very satisfying. I would love to read more novels by this excellent author Eshkol Nevo.
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Format: Paperback
Sensitively written, well crafted, believable characters. Truly a window into Israeli life, but with universal themes of longing, pain, and struggle.
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Format: Paperback
Set in a country whose national narrative is defined by the struggle for home and homeland, this novel is rich with stories of personal loss, longing, exile and return. The title is nuanced: some of Nevo's characters yearn for lost or abandoned homes, in the traditional meaning of the word "homesick"; others find toxicity in the entrapments of home and need to escape.

On the broad scale, Nevo beautifully portrays the fabric of life in Israel in 1995. On an intimate scale, his depictions of characters' internal dialogue are warm, honest, revelatory, and often amusing. An adventurous Israeli traveler contemplates a bungee jump over a river in South America; a photography student is unexpectedly wracked by uncontrollable laughter during a Reiki massage; a psychology candidate questions his internal boundaries in the face of a group of unstable patients; an adolescent boy renders in aching detail the conversations of his grieving parents.

"Homesick" captivated me on so many levels, leaving me with the hope that more of Nevo's novels will find their way into English translations.
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all but the translation of the title was wonderful. Unfortunately English translates it as sick but more correctly it is yearning, and aren't we all?
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Format: Paperback
This book allows you to peek in a lively and profound way, into a sample of life in Israel today.

Amos Oz said that "if you are a reader [from another country]..., you are actually invited into other people's living rooms, into their nurseries and studies, into their bedrooms. You are invited into their secret sorrows, into their family joys, into their dreams."

Eshkol Nevo crystallizes the invitation. I couldn't stop reading it.
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