cover image Eden


Yael Hedaya, trans. from the Hebrew by Jessica Cohen, Metropolitan, $30 (496p) ISBN 978-0-8050-9265-3

The challenges of domestic life and the fears of terrorist violence haunt the seven inhabitants of an Israeli farming collective in this accomplished, acutely observed novel from the former head writer of the original Israeli series that HBO's In Treatment was based on. Hedaya draws fine psychological portraits of her characters, all caught in the throes of self-doubt, self-absorption, and vague yearnings as their farm goes from idyllic 1950s Eden to an upscale community reeling from the many domestic problems of its inhabitants. While Hedaya endows her characters with individuality, she is less assured when reflecting on the general malaise and pervasive sadness of Israeli society. One protagonist, the 16-year-old Roni, alternates between grandiose romanticism and faux angst, and Hedaya's other players suffer similar melancholic conflicts stemming from loss of innocence or diminished hopes. Though political events are kept offstage, when trouble arises, suspicion falls on the Arab handyman who serves the community. Despite its soap opera–like foundation, the novel succeeds in avoiding clichés, creating universal characters existing in an intimately connected social milieu. (Nov.)