cover image The Hilltop

The Hilltop

Assaf Gavron, trans. from the Hebrew by Steven Cohen. Scribner, $26 (464p) ISBN 978-1-4767-6043-8

This memorable novel by Gavron (Almost Dead) follows the fate of a small, not-quite-legitimate Israeli settlement in the West Bank and its denizens. Othniel Assis and a few associates founded Ma’aleh Hermesh C in the recent past, both despite and with the aid of various Israeli bureaucracies. While the primary story line charts the course of the settlers’ fight against the inevitable barrage of eviction notices and subsequent reversals, Gavron moves beyond simple political farce by weaving together the stories, both simple and complex, of individual characters. He particularly focuses on the kibbutznik brothers, the spiritual Gavriel Nehushtan and businessman Roni Kupper, who arrive at Ma’aleh Hermesh C at different times and in different circumstances. “Longing is the engine of the world,” one character says. Indeed, Gavron’s novel is marked by its great depth of feeling and its disparate themes, which are united by the longing of its characters. (Oct.)