cover image Cafe Nevo

Cafe Nevo

Barbara Rogan. Atheneum Books, $19.95 (309pp) ISBN 978-0-689-11840-1

Lively dialogue and appealing characters distinguish the new novel by the author of Changing States. Emmanuel, proprietor and sole waiter of Tel Aviv's Cafe Nevo, serves as the conscience of its patrons, eavesdropping, matchmaking, advising and sometimes solving the problems of his bedeviled customers. Plots abound: Ilana is a fastidious prostitute who becomes pregnant, won't marry the father, is denied forgiveness by her poor but judgmental family and finds solace in the friendship of Vered, who has cuckolded her faithless husband by sleeping with an Arab. Also present is Sarita, an unschooled artistic genius, who quietly makes sketches of the cafe, never noticing that Arik, Army deserter and son of a general, is falling in love with her. The women are all beautiful, but none, thinks Emmanuel, compares with Sarita's mother, killed long ago and now brought to miraculous life in her daughter's sketches. On this note of tremulous romance, this affecting book comes to an end. (June)