Place: Tel Aviv

A Pigeon and the Washing Machine, or Laundry and the Folkstory

The cleanliness of laundry is never more than a cover for the inherent bloodiness and destruction of love.

 

“You have to get rid of it,” Tali says, gesturing towards the pigeon’s nest in the flower boxes on the balcony, “otherwise you’ll never be able to hang laundry out there again, not to mention the lice.” “But what to do with the…..” I trailed off delicately, with a glance at my five-year-old daughter, dressed in a pink princess costume and hovering over a piece of angel-food cake covered in cherries. “I know,” says my daughter, looking up from the cake, “you could take the egg and just throw it down and smash it!”

Shocked and relieved in equal measure, as on the first day my daughter had asked for the princess dress and wanted to play Cinderella, only to suggest she be the evil stepmother and I be Cinderella. That day she’d said, “Cinderella! This house is a disaster! Sweep the floor!” Now. I picked up the tiny, white egg, whose shell in the lamplight was so warm and fragile I was certain I could see the bright gold yolk through it. I tenderly placed the egg on a shelf of air, and, unsurprisingly, it fell into the shrubbery one storey below.

READ MORE…

Live from the NYPL: Tel Aviv and Tehran Noir

Honoring noir writing—and living—in two notoriously conflicted cities

It was a full house at the New York Public Library on Wednesday night, and I learned just how similar Iranians and Israelis are.

Rick Moody moderated a panel event for Live at NYPL, launching two new books from Akashic’s Noir Series: Tel Aviv Noir and Tehran Noir. Akashic Books’ Noir series includes over sixty anthologies of noir stories set in cities around the world. The panel guests included Tel Aviv Noir editors Assaf Gavron and Etgar Keret, Tehran Noir editor Salar Abdoh and Tehran Noir contributor Gina Nahai. Sitting in the audience, listening intently, I felt complicit.

I had translated eleven out of the fourteen stories in Tel Aviv Noir (two others were written originally in English, a third was translated from Spanish). I felt that where the book succeeded or failed, I shared some of the responsibility. I also felt simultaneously in and out of place: I’ve lived in Tel Aviv most of my life, but have never been to Tehran, though when I see pictures of its mountains I get that belly ache of longing.

These two facts are connected: as an Israeli Jew, much of that world is closed to me. READ MORE…

In Review: Marek Hlasko’s “Killing the Second Dog”

First published in Polish in 1965, Tomasz Mirkowicz's translation of a crime novel set in Tel Aviv delights Asymptote's new editor-at-large

Marek Hlasko’s novel, Killing the Second Dog, is set in Tel Aviv, but it isn’t any Tel Aviv that I know. Not only the years that separate my Israel (I was born there in 1982) from the novel’s newly independent Israel of the early 1950s account for this lack of familiarity. Nor is it the fact that Killing the Second Dog is, essentially, a crime novel. Hlasko’s Tel Aviv is an identity-less city, where a multitude of languages is spoken and a variety of currencies is exchanged. Still overcoming British rule and catering to the many post-war tourists financing its new path, this Israel offers itself up for grabs, trying, in spite of the suffocating heat and the shoddy infrastructure, to constitute as small an interruption as possible.

READ MORE…