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Maayan Eitan. Penguin Press, $20 (112p) ISBN 978-0-593-29969-2

Sex work and the effects of trauma on memory are interwoven in Eitan’s mysterious and phantasmagorical debut, translated by the author from the Hebrew. A narrator whose name might be Libby or Justine (a nod to Sade) describes her hazy life in contemporary Israel, where sex workers of various ages and ethnicities are ferried to and from assignations by drivers, and the bonds they form with one other. The narrator refers obliquely to therapy, hospitalization, self-loathing, acts of violence, and habits of theft and self-harm, offering conflicting accounts of her age, personal history, and reasons for doing sex work. Some stability exists in the figure of Assaf, her boss, and her repeated references to a childhood spent living off-the-grid. The end of a relationship sends the narrator reeling, and she begins facing a childhood tragedy. Proceeding in short, self-contained sections, the deliberately opaque narrative is equally frustrating and enticing. The psychological mystery at the heart—why does the narrator do sex work?—is not particularly surprising or original, but Eitan is less interested in redemption than the possibilities for reflecting a fractured consciousness in prose (the narrator imagines reading in a book that “we are free women”). Some of this is baffling, but it has its moments. (Feb.)