One Night, Markovitch
A translated work of Israeli fiction by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen, One Night, Markovitch was not the story of one night but of many. I decided to purchase the book because front of the book had a quote describing the story as a "fable for the twenty-first century" and the back of the book described the contents as the story of "two men -- Yaacov Markovitch, perennially unlucky in love, and Zeev Feinberg, virile owner of a lustrous moustache -- are crossing the sea to marry women they have never met." Additionally, the book had been published by Pushkin Press (a publishing house I have come to associate with Stefan Zweig), so I bought the book without really knowing the story. Much to my surprise, I start reading and learned that this is a tale of the Irgun, the Jewish terrorist/freedom fighter organization that I have been spending the entire term studying.... Halfway through the first page:
"It required an enormous effort to keep looking at the barrenness of Yaacov Markovitch's face. People do not enjoy making enormous efforts, and so they only rarely looked at his face for any length of time. This had its advantages, and the unit commander was aware of them. He looked at Yaacov Markovitch's face for exactly the amount of time he needed, then dropped his gaze. You will smuggle weapons, the unit commander said. With that face, no one will notice. And he was right. Yaacov Maarkovitch probably smuggled more weapons than any other member of the Irgun, and never came close to being caught...
And at this point, I let out an audible gasp because I thought I was just reading this vaguely romantic novel but no! I had stumbled into a novel about the material I had spent the entire term with!! Anyway, once I got past this initial surprise I settled into the story very quickly -- and it was a beautiful and heartbreaking story of a friendship shaped by the politics of the land. It dealt with a range of issues (the jewish divorce, gett, where only the man can grant a divorce, surprisingly played a central plot) but it did not delve too deeply into anything rooted in the real history; the characters were colored by their situations, but this was a story about Yaacov Markovitch and Zeev Feinberg. Rating: ★★★★★