cover image Heatwave and Crazy Birds

Heatwave and Crazy Birds

Gabriela Avigur-Rotem, trans. from the Hebrew by Dalya Bilu. Dalkey Archive, $15.95 trade paper (408p) ISBN 978-1-56478-643-2

There might be a compelling novel or, perhaps, several found in this bloated book, but it'll take an unusually devoted reader to slog through a swamp of excess to suss things out. Loya Kaplan, a single flight attendant who's starting to feel like life is passing her by, receives news that she's inherited a house from an acquaintance of her father. She returns to the Israeli housing estate she left 25 years before, now gentrified and called by the developer-friendly moniker Pinewoods Residential Estates. Loya is consumed with the past, and she thinks back on her previous lovers from around the world and her departed family; meanwhile, many of Loya's childhood friends still live at the estate, including Ora, no longer the beauty she once was, whose brother-in-law, Avi, sets in motion events that will lead Loya to face the past in ways that will forever change her. Avigur-Rotem styles gorgeous prose (such as the high heels that have made Loya "almost deaf in the feet"), but the prose alone can't carry a story that starts out as a nice tweak on the fairly standard homecoming/family secrets affair before mushrooming into a chaotic sprawl that too often mistakes top-notch writing for momentum. (June)