All the Rivers
(Yes, Dorit Rabinyan tweeted my article!!)
Rabinyan, an Iranian Jewish woman, is best known for her novel “All the Rivers” (translated by Jessica Cohen). The novel tells the story of an Israeli woman and a Palestinian man who fall in love one winter in New York. A year after its publication, the Israeli Education Ministry banned the novel from high school reading lists. This controversy propelled Rabinyan into the news; she wrote in Time Magazine that “the book tries to address the Jewish fear of losing our identity in the Middle East. And yet that very fear condemned it to official rejection.” Don’t just read Rabinyan’s “All the Rivers” as a rebellion because of its banned book status; read it for a heart-wrenching portrait of a doomed relationship (spoiler: the book is all the more powerful when you find out the story is based on her real life relationship with Palestinian artist Hassan Hourani).
I read this book for the piece I was writing, and it did not disappoint. I stayed up all night reading the love story between Liat, an Israeli translator, and Hilmi, a Palestinian artist. The book's ending took me by surprise, as did the revelation that the story is based on her real life. I loved the way she captured New York winters and how two individuals try and bridge the unbridgeable gap between their identities. Not to be missed.