cover image A Good Place for the Night

A Good Place for the Night

Savyon Liebrecht, , trans. from the Hebrew by Sondra Silverston. . Persea, $14 (249pp) ISBN 978-0-89255-320-4

This collection by one of Israel's most popular authors turns upon issues of family, place and disconnection, and the stories have the dreamy, evocative smoothness of underwater films. Hadassah, whose mother moves with another woman's husband and daughter to the U.S. when Haddassah is young, narrates "America." Her observation, on the day her mother leaves, that she "was frightened by the unfamiliar sensations flooding me, as if I'd lost my old place and still didn't have a new one" is a representative sentiment of the collection, as the protagonist in each story grapples with emotional and geographical dislocation. Disorientation afflicts Liebrecht's characters from the Israeli reporter in Munich to cover a Nazi war trial ("Munich") to the mentally handicapped man trying to make a life among unsympathetic members of a kibbutz ("Kibbutz"). In the last and finest story, "A Good Place for the Night," a woman struggles to survive in an unnamed place virtually destroyed by a nuclear catastrophe. The permanent unsettledness of Israel is exported and globalized here; no matter where Liebrecht's characters go or what they do, they are never yet truly at home. (Dec.)