cover image The Hebrew Teacher

The Hebrew Teacher

Maya Arad, trans. from the Hebrew by Jessica Cohen. New Vessel, $17.95 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-954404-23-6

Arad makes her English-language debut with an intelligent triptych of novellas that showcase Israeli women navigating their professional and family relationships in the U.S. The title story features Ilana, an adjunct professor of Hebrew at an unnamed Midwestern college whose support of Israel leads to a clash with a younger tenure-track professor. In “A Visit,” Miriam travels from Israel to California to meet her first grandchild. When she arrives in Silicon Valley, her son Yoram’s marriage and work difficulties come into focus. Arad alternates perspectives between Miriam, Yoram, and Yoram’s wife, Maya, providing a satisfying overview of the dysfunctional family dynamics and illuminating the reasons for Maya’s coldness. In “Make New Friends,” Efrat gets caught up in her middle-school-age daughter’s struggle to fit in with the “in crowd,” who tacitly accept her, but ignore her on social media. The plot thickens when the overprotective Efrat tries to intervene. Throughout, Arad offers an astute and heartfelt look at what brings people together and what drives them apart. Readers will be rewarded by Arad’s keen insights. (Mar.)