cover image The Sound of Our Steps

The Sound of Our Steps

Ronit Matalon, trans. from the Hebrew by Dalya Bilu. Metropolitan, $32 (384p) ISBN 978-0-8050-9160-1

Matalon (The One Facing Us) structures this exquisite novel as a series of short vignettes, painting a picture of life in an impoverished area of 1950s%E2%80%931960s Tel Aviv. The family at the center of the story is composed of Lucette, the hard-working mother, who fled an abusive relationship in Egypt; her three children; and the children's volatile father, Maurice, who appears only occasionally. The eldest child, Sammy, works himself to exhaustion and refuses to cede the pride he takes in his working-class roots. The second is Corinne, who is obsessed with her appearance and struggles to move away from her family. The youngest, the protagonist, is so overlooked that she is only referred to as "the child." She takes in and recounts her family's story, examining quiet moments that gently alter the direction of their lives. Matalon's tale captures the tension that lies under Israel at all times, particularly for immigrants. Her beautiful language is kept intact by Bilu's deft translation. (Aug.)