By turns subversive and darkly comic, brutal and tender, Ron Leshem’s debut novel is an international literary sensation, winner of Israel’s top award for literature and the basis for a prizewinning film. Charged with brilliance and daring, hypnotic in its intensity, Beaufort is at once a searing coming-of-age story and a novel for our times—one of the most powerful, visceral portraits of the horror, camaraderie, and absurdity of war in modern fiction.
Beaufort. To the handful of Israeli soldiers occupying the ancient crusader fortress, it is a little slice of hell—a forbidding, fear-soaked enclave perched atop two acres of land in southern Lebanon, surrounded by an enemy they cannot see. And to the thirteen young men in his command, Twenty-one-year-old Lieutenant Liraz “Erez” Liberti is a taskmaster, confessor, and the only hope in the face of attacks that come out of nowhere and missions seemingly designed to get them all killed.
All around them, tension crackles in the air. Long stretches of boredom and black humor are punctuated by flashes of terror. And the threat of death is constant. But in their stony haven, Erez and his soldiers have created their own little world, their own rules, their own language. And here Erez listens to his men build castles out of words, telling stories, telling lies, talking incessantly of women, sex, and dead comrades. Until, in the final days of the occupation, Erez and his squad of fed-up, pissed-off, frightened young soldiers are given one last order: a mission that will shatter all remaining illusions—and stand as a testament to the universal, gut-wrenching futility of war.
The basis for the Academy Award-nominated film of the same name.
In this gritty war novel, Leshem chronicles the tumultuous year leading up to Israel's 2000 withdrawal from Southern Lebanon. The story is told through the eyes of 21-year-old squadron leader, Liraz Liberti (aka Erez), who is tasked with shepherding a motley group of 13 "kids" through their military tours at the historic Israeli outpost, Beaufort. As the violence at Beaufort increases and the day of the withdrawal approaches, those stationed at the outpost try to ward off "eatenness" (fear) and a nagging sense of the futility of manning an outpost about to be closed down. Rather than dwell on the politics behind Israel's conflict with Hezbollah, Leshem focuses on the soldiers' slang-heavy language (those who are scared are "strawberry pissers"; a dumb soldier is a "hummus") and the thickening camaraderie to give readers remarkably visceral access to the isolated outpost. The anxiety and fear are palpable throughout Leshem's vivid novel-you can practically feel the shells explode.