From time to time I translate Hebrew novels I truly love into English. My translation of Asaf Schurr’s Motti won the 2013 Risa Domb/Porjes Hebrew-English Translation Prize. My translation of Dror Burstein’s Netanya was short-listed for the 2015 JQ-Wingate Literary Prize. Looking for a translator? Contact me at email@example.com.
Motti by Asaf Schurr
An unassuming, unambitious man named Motti, who owns a dog named Laika, has a good friend named Menachem. Motti and Menachem drink beer together every week, and Motti spends the rest of his time daydreaming an imaginary love story for himself and his neighbor, Ariella. Motti is the very picture of inertia, until, one night, a drunk Menachem, driving home from a bar with Motti, runs over a woman and kills her. Menachem has a wife and children, so without any fuss, Motti — who has nothing — decides to take the blame, going to prison instead of his friend… and finding that his life there isn’t too different from his life outside. “Oh dear,” says the narrator, wondering how to tell us anything about such empty lives, “look at them, at all the people in this novel… if someone would really hug them, if someone would hold them tightly, they would fall to pieces.”
Netanya by Dror Burstein
The “plot” of Dror Burstein’s dazzling meditation consists of nothing more than the author’s lying on a bench, looking up at the night sky. What results from this simple action is, however, a monologue whose scope is both personal and cosmic, with Burstein’s thoughts ricocheting between stories from his past and visions of the origin and end of the universe. The result is a fascinating blend of reminiscence, fiction, and amateur science, seeking to convey not only a personal story but the big picture in which the saga of life on Earth and of the stars that surround it have the same status as anecdotes about one’s aunts and uncles. With a tip of the hat to W. G. Sebald and Yoel Hoffmann, Netanya seeks to transform human history into an intimate family story, and demonstrates how the mind at play can bring a little warmth into a cold universe.
Haunted by the past and his own limitations, Israeli Detective Avraham Avraham must stop a criminal ruthless enough to target children in this evocative and gripping tale of mystery and psychological suspense that is the follow-up to The Missing File, the acclaimed first novel in D. A. Mishani’s literary crime series that was shortlisted for the CWA International Dagger Award.
An explosive device is found in a suitcase near a daycare center in a quiet suburb of Tel Aviv. A few hours later, a threat is received: the suitcase was only the beginning.
Inspector Avraham Avraham, back in Israel after a much-needed vacation, is assigned to the investigation. Tormented by the trauma and failure of his past case, Avraham is determined not to make the same mistakes—especially with innocent lives at stake. He may have a break when one of the suspects, a father of two, appears to have gone on the run. Is he the terrorist behind the threat? Is he trying to escape Avraham’s intense investigation? Or perhaps he’s fleeing a far more terrible crime that no one knows has been committed?
No matter how much Avraham wants to atone for the past, redemption may not be possible—not when he’s entangled in a case more deceptive and abominable than any he’s ever faced.