A controversial, award-winning story about the passionate but untenable affair between an Israeli woman and a Palestinian man, from one of Israel’s most acclaimed novelists
When Liat meets Hilmi on a blustery autumn afternoon in Greenwich Village, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Charismatic and handsome, Hilmi is a talented young artist from Palestine. Liat, an aspiring translation student, plans to return to Israel the following summer. Despite knowing that their love can be only temporary, that it can exist only away from their conflicted homeland, Liat lets herself be enraptured by Hilmi: by his lively imagination, by his beautiful hands and wise eyes, by his sweetness and devotion.
Together they explore the city, sharing laughs and fantasies and pangs of homesickness. But the unfettered joy they awaken in each other cannot overcome the guilt Liat feels for hiding him from her family in Israel and her Jewish friends in New York. As her departure date looms and her love for Hilmi deepens, Liat must decide whether she is willing to risk alienating her family, her community, and her sense of self for the love of one man.
Banned from classrooms by Israel’s Ministry of Education, Dorit Rabinyan’s remarkable novel contains multitudes. A bold portrayal of the strains—and delights—of a forbidden relationship, All the Rivers (published in Israel as Borderlife) is a love story and a war story, a New York story and a Middle East story, an unflinching foray into the forces that bind us and divide us. “The land is the same land,” Hilmi reminds Liat. “In the end all the rivers flow into the same sea.”
Praise for All the Rivers
“Rabinyan’s book is a sort of Romeo and Juliet, a forbidden love affair between a Jewish girl from Tel Aviv and a Palestinian boy from Hebron. . . . [A] beautiful novel.”—The Guardian
“A fine, subtle, and disturbing study of the ways in which public events encroach upon the private lives of those who attempt to live and love in peace with each other, and, impossibly, with a riven and irreconcilable world.”—John Banville, Man Booker Prize–winning author of The Sea
“I’m with Dorit Rabinyan. Love, not hate, will save us. Hatred sows hatred, but love can break down barriers.”—Svetlana Alexievich, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature
“Astonishing . . . [a] precise and elegant love story, drawn with the finest of lines.”—Amos Oz
“Rabinyan’s writing reflects the honesty and modesty of a true artisan.”—Haaretz
“Because the novel strikes the right balance between the personal and the political, and because of her ability to tell a suspenseful and satisfying story, we decided to award Dorit Rabinyan’s [All the Rivers] the 2015 Bernstein Prize.”—From the 2015 Bernstein Prize judges’ decision
“[All the Rivers] ought to be read like J. M. Coetzee or Toni Morrison—from a distance in order to get close.”—Walla!
“Beautiful and sensitive . . . a human tale of rapprochement and separation . . . a noteworthy human and literary achievement.”—Makor Rishon
“A captivating (and heartbreaking) gem, written in a spectacular style, with a rich, flowing, colorful and addictive language.”—Motke
“A great novel of love and peace.”—La Stampa
“A novel that truly speaks to the heart.”—Corriere della Sera
Bernstein Prize winner Rabinyan's modern take on forbidden love between young dreamers on opposite sides of a bitter cultural conflict enthralls and delights. Liat, an Israeli Fulbright scholar studying in New York City, has a chance meeting one afternoon with the affable Hilmi, a Palestinian painter on an artist's visa that explodes into an intense love affair. A relationship unthinkable at home flourishes in post 9/11 New York. Liat is poetic and emotive, her intense infatuation for Hilmi sustaining Rabinyan's florid prose the feel of Hilmi's dark curls against her face, her strong reactions to his intense, beautiful paintings making the electricity between the two lovers palpable. Although their relationship is full of passion, Liat believes their romantic fling cannot last and will end when she returns to Israel. But instead their intimacy grows into love, complicating the once-tenuous affair. It is a realistic relationship that sparks with vitality and vitriol, jumping through blissful rendezvous, heated arguments, and shameful secrets that build upon each other. While their political, cultural, and religious differences should be of little importance in multicultural New York City, there remains an obscure, impenetrable wall between them. Rabinyan beautifully loops the story from season to season, depicting Liat and Hilmi's lives and love vividly and memorably.