cover image Dolly City

Dolly City

Orly Castel-Bloom, trans. from the Hebrew by Dalya Bilu, Dalkey Archive, $13.95 paper (176p) ISBN 978-1-56478-610-4

This strange and searing novel (after Human Parts) follows the exploits of Doctor Dolly as she traverses a nightmarish Tel Aviv–like metropolis known as Dolly City. Her University of Katmandu medical training not recognized in Israel, Dolly is unable to legally practice medicine and instead experiments in her home lab on animals she infects with diseases of her own invention. But when Dolly finds an abandoned baby wrapped in a plastic bag, her maternal urges are unexpectedly awakened, and as she grows more and more obsessed with her son—whom she names Son—she succumbs to a madness manifesting itself as fanatical concern with Son's health and the conviction that cancer is everywhere. Dolly's agitated mind increasingly parallels the deterioration of Dolly City, "the most demented city in the world," besieged by "Arabophobia" from within and French air raids from without. This parable about motherhood, nationhood, and the intersection of the two is never less than gripping, though its insistence on the graphic depiction of life in a war zone—whether private or public—sometimes makes it tempting to look away. (Oct.)