About a week ago I received a friend request from an academic in Kentucky with an Israeli sounding name. I checked his bio and he had lived on a kibbutz and worked as a bovine inseminator. I was having dinner with friends and I could feel my heartbeat quicken. I know that I might not have got everything right in this book, but I tried hard and I had numerous people read it, vet the Hebrew and the particulars. Still, I was nervous about publishing this book.
I know a lot of smart people, good readers who are either Israeli, or half Israeli, or have spent enough time in Israel to speak Hebrew (and Arabic) and while I thought the book would appeal even to Americans who'd never been there, and had no connection to Judaism OR Israel, it was those fluent in Israel that I worried most about.
A few moments later a message popped up:
"Your novel is stunning and both a close friend and I who are former kibbutzniks are impressed by how well you portray that and all the other immersive settings in your story. I wish you great success with it!"
He went on to write: "The "dugri" nature of your writing, the acerbic candor and unsparing portrayal of a deeply scarred national psyche--and the resultant chaos it produces in individuals. The sharp contrast between two different societies--and the disparate ways that people thrive or fail to thrive in each. You accomplish that so sharply and meaningfully! And again, the language itself delivers real verisimilitude. I have read many, many books written about Israel over the decades and been turned off because it is so easy to get things wrong--I had precisely the opposite reaction with yours. And in terms of tone you sometimes reminded me of Orly Castel-Bloom, another writer I admire, but mostly it's impressive how much of a singular voice you really achieve in that work."
His comments meant so much to me. Thank you, Ranen Omer-Sherman! Hope you get to NYC and we can have coffee and talk kibbutz life!