Hailed by The New York Times Book Review as a novel that "broke all the barriers . . . sexually explicit yet dense with biblical allusions and psychological insight", Love Life unbuttoned Hebrew literature and spent four months as Israel's number one best-seller. What begins as a story of a young married woman's turbulent affair with an older man rapidly devolves into a feverish, lyrical crash course in the anatomy of obsession.When Yaara meets Aryeh, her father's boyhood friend, she is instantly drawn to his impassive and archly assured presence. It is not long before she forsakes her devoted and well-meaning husband for the powerful, mysterious older man who seems to embody all that she lacks: will, strength, and the key to her parents' inaccessible pasts. They embark on a heated affair that soon spirals toward the destructive as Yaara finds that the things in Aryeh that attract her also repel her with equal intensity. With shocking immediacy, Shalev lays bare Yaara's struggle to navigate extreme terrain ranging from the sublime to the grotesque, the sacred to the profane, the liberating to the all-consuming. Love Life is cerebral, seductive, provocative, and profound.
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ZERUYA SHALEV, poet and novelist, was raised on a kibbutz in Israel and now lives in Jerusalem. She has a Master's degree in biblical studies and is chief literary editor of an Israeli publishing house. Love Life is her first work of fiction to be translated into English; it has also been translated into eight other languages.From Kirkus Reviews:
A strange and somewhat strained tale of an extramarital affair: poet Shalevs first fiction and a huge success in her native Israel. Narrator Ya'arah is a graduate student living in Jerusalem with her pleasant if unexciting husband when she meets Aryeh, her father's best friend, a jaded but attractively bearish man who immediately both repels and attracts her. With surprising rapidity (surprising even to her), she falls into an on-and-off affair with him, depicted in increasingly explicit terms, gradually undermining not only her marriage but her already shaky academic career as well. Things come to a messy peak when his wife dies and her husband plans to take her on a long-deferred honeymoon, at which point she goes to the older man to comfort him, knowing that this can only precipitate an irreparable breach in her marriage. Shalev tells this somewhat banal story in a torrential first-person stream-of-consciousness narration. The tonea tumbling welter of clauses strung together into lengthy run-on sentencesreflects the impulsive, willful mind of the narrator, but the effect on the reader quickly becomes numbing. And the pace of the story is often blunted by lengthy, uninspired philosophical discussions. On the other hand, its complex architecture, built on a series of slowly disclosed revelations of the past connections between her parents and her lover, provides a certain fascinating force. Regrettably, much of that force is vitiated by the narrative voice, which is petulant, self-involved, self-dramatizing, and emotionally disproportionate to many of the quotidian events driving the plot. Still, Bilu's translation is quite good, which may work to the book's advantage. Oddly unpleasant and yet somehow riveting. -- Copyright ©2000, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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