cover image The Remains of Love

The Remains of Love

Zeruya Shalev, trans. from the Hebrew by Philip Simpson. Bloomsbury, $26 (432p) ISBN 978-1-60819-954-9

The agony of death is supplanted by the challenges of family in Israeli writer Shalev’s (Late Family) fifth book. Hemda was the first baby born in a progressive kibbutz, raised with high expectations as her mother traveled the world raising money to support her. Now elderly, Hemda lies in a hospital in Jerusalem after a fall in her apartment; she revisits moments from her past, imagining that her parents are visiting her at her bedside. Instead, it’s her children who wait nearby, bringing their own issues: having missed her opportunity to have a second child, Dina wants to adopt, but her husband and her daughter think she’s deluded and refuse to participate; and Avner, after seeing a dying man at the same hospital where his mother is being treated, is obsessed with finding the man’s grieving partner. Shalev captures both the stuffy claustrophobia of the hospital and the abyss of possibility outside as Hemda’s health problems force her children to reckon with their legacies and change what they can. The author’s long, internal-facing paragraphs amplify the drama and allow each of the Horovitzes to have a say as they face an uncertain future without Hemda’s influence. (Dec.)