- 139,00 kr
“Zeruya Shalev is one of my favorite contemporary writers, her work always spiky and original, and Pain is a searing book, a wild and ravenous story of family entanglement and impossible yearning.” —Lauren Groff, author of Florida and Fates and Furies
A powerful, astute novel that exposes how old passions can return, testing our capacity to make choices about what is most essential in life.
Ten years after she was seriously injured in a terrorist attack, the pain comes back to torment Iris. But that is not all: Eitan, the love of her youth, also comes back into her life. Though their relationship ended many years ago, she was more deeply wounded when he left her than by the suicide bomber who blew himself up next to her.
Iris's marriage is stagnant. Her two children have grown up and are almost independent; she herself has become a dedicated, successful school principal. Now, after years without passion and joy, Eitan brings them back into her life. But she must concoct all sorts of lies to conceal her affair from her family, and the lies become more and more complicated.
Is this an impossible predicament, or on the contrary a scintillating revelation of the many ways life's twists and turns can bring us to a place we would never have expected to be?
Shalev's exhausting fifth novel (after Love Life) rides "waves of pain... drawing the map" of the lives of Iris, survivor of a Jerusalem bomb attack, and her damaged family. Confronting the return of pain from her old injuries, which coincides with the return of her childhood sweetheart Eitan, Iris, a dedicated school principal, must decide whether the life she has built since Eitan left her decades earlier is worth salvaging. Her husband, Mickie, who is obsessed with online chess, annoys her. Her son, Omer, though a handful as a child, no longer needs her. And her daughter, Alma, apparently caught up in the orbit of an exploitative guru, has moved to Tel Aviv. Charting Iris's foray into infidelity and chronicling the increasing danger of Alma's situation, the author heaps her characters' grievances onto a pyre of discontent, until the story collapses into a tedious litany of physical, mental, and emotional suffering. Too earnest in her descriptions of love rediscovered, and drowning Iris in torment, Shalev sabotages her sometimes fine writing by long-winded, explanatory preaching. A pristine observation "She was wrong, those weren't nuts in her mouth, they were ice cubes" is marred, for instance, by the paragraph of explanation that follows, exemplifying an overall fault of the book. This relentless expos of affliction in all its iterations is undone by its lack of trust in its readers.