Ever since I took a couple of Israeli Literature classes a few years back I have been interested in reading books by Israeli/Jewish writers. I have accumulated a stack (still growing) of new books by authors I was introduced to in class but had gotten away from reading (not a lack of desire, of course, just a case of too many books and too many interests and never enough reading time). I've just finished a novel by Eshkol Nevo (must write about it soon) and decided I will keep reading books from that part of the world this year. One of the nice things about having a particular interest ad plans to read further in a particular area is that I always have a stack of suitable reading material, and knowing those books are at arm's reach means I have incentive to stay on track and finish books in a timely manner.
I'd been thinking of my choice for some time and while I had a stack of several really good books, one of which was a recent award winner, I loved A.B. Yehoshua's The Lover and have been keen to read more of his work. His newest novel, The Extra (Nitzevet translated by Stuart Schoffman), came out in 2014 and was translated from Hebrew into English in 2016 and is now handily in paperback.
The story concerns a forty-ish woman, a harpist, now living in the Netherlands who must return home to Jerusalem after the death of her father. Noga's decision to remain childless caused a rift in her marriage that ended in divorce, so returning home to her old life will cause a stir in her settled world. During her stay in Israel she finds work as an extra in movies, television and opera. "These new identities undermine the firm boundaries of behavior heretofore protected by the music she plays, and Noga, always an extra in someone else's story, takes charge of the plot."
This sounds wonderfully appealing to me and I am curious how this "wrinkle" in her life will redefine her. Women reinventing themselves at later stages in their lives is a theme I have been immensely interested in, and this should be an interesting take (and not that it matters, but always is something of a curiosity) Yehoshua is a male writer so I wonder how he will handle the story.
As I have literally only picked up the book to start reading, the teaser is as much for me and the novel opens:
"At four in the morning the cell phone rings, its alarm forgotten from the day before, yet she doesn't turn off the wistful melody planted in the gadget by an elderly flutist who wanted to be remembered during her long visit to Israel. Nor, when quiet is restored, does she curl up under her parents' warm quilt to resume her interrupted sleep. Instead she tugs lightly on the levers of the electric bed and elevates its head, so that while still lying down she can scan the dawning Jerusalem sky, in search of the planet for which she was named."
There is nothing like the promise of a new story, is there?!