cover image All the Rivers

All the Rivers

Dorit Rabinyan. Random House, $27 (288p) ISBN 978-0-375-50829-5

Bernstein Prize winner Rabinyan’s modern take on forbidden love between young dreamers on opposite sides of a bitter cultural conflict enthralls and delights. Liat, an Israeli Fulbright scholar studying in New York City, has a chance meeting one afternoon with the affable Hilmi, a Palestinian painter on an artist’s visa that explodes into an intense love affair. A relationship unthinkable at home flourishes in post 9/11 New York. Liat is poetic and emotive, her intense infatuation for Hilmi sustaining Rabinyan’s florid prose—the feel of Hilmi’s dark curls against her face, her strong reactions to his intense, beautiful paintings—making the electricity between the two lovers palpable. Although their relationship is full of passion, Liat believes their romantic fling cannot last and will end when she returns to Israel. But instead their intimacy grows into love, complicating the once-tenuous affair. It is a realistic relationship that sparks with vitality and vitriol, jumping through blissful rendezvous, heated arguments, and shameful secrets that build upon each other. While their political, cultural, and religious differences should be of little importance in multicultural New York City, there remains an obscure, impenetrable wall between them. Rabinyan beautifully loops the story from season to season, depicting Liat and Hilmi’s lives and love vividly and memorably. (Apr.)