Circling Eden: Novel of Israel in Stories

Carol Magun, Author Academy Chicago Publishers $19.95 (200p) ISBN 978-0-89733-412-9
When Rebecca Harrison leaves her Yalie boyfriend behind in 1973 to spend her junior year abroad in Jerusalem, hoping to define her Jewish identity, she envisions Israel partly as an all-green biblical eden, partly as an idealistic, egalitarian utopia. Inevitable disappointments and misunderstandings, and her gradual awakening to modern Israeli realities and a new sense of self, form the substance of this frank, humorous, sharply observed debut novel. To some of the Israelis she meets, Rebecca is an amerika'it, an assimilated Jew who confirms their notions that Americans are either selfish individualists or romantic seekers. Rebecca's affair with her Hebrew tutor Ethan, son of a Las Vegas rabbi, a deeper romantic entanglement with Avner, a Yemenite Jewish student, her volunteer work on a new settlement in the Golan Heights and the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War, which snatches Avner from her, are signposts on an affecting, sensitive voyage of self-discovery. Magun, who lived in Israel for nine years, palpably evokes daily life in that country and captures the tensions between Israeli and American Jews. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 08/29/2005
Release date: 08/01/2005
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