Latest Review: "Almost Dead" by Assaf Gavron

The latest addition to our Review Section is a piece by Jeff Waxman on Assaf Gavron’s Almost Dead, which was translated from the Hebrew by the author and James Lever and published by HarperCollins.

I’m really glad Jeff brought this book to my attention . . . It was one that I had missed in entering info into the Translation Database, but more importantly, it sounds really interesting.

For anyone who doesn’t know, Jeff is a bookseller at Seminary Co-op and runs The Front Table. He’s also a frequent contributor here and is on the Best Translated Book Award fiction committee.

And here’s the beginning of his review:

Big publishing houses have a lot going for them. They’ve got money and media access and the power to bring a book to the forefront of a very noisy culture, if only for a moment. And, like the small presses, they have some outstanding people working for them—publishers, editors, and publicists trying their damnedest to make something like art. What they don’t have very often is a coherent and cohesive vision, even for their individual imprints, and I hope it’s not too unkind to say that they don’t often have very interesting books. Instead, they seem to expend a lot of their energy—and money—in getting excited about the unexciting.

All of this is why I was so delighted to see Harper Perennial come out with Assaf Gavron’s Almost Dead. Harper Perennial is one of the best corners of that house, and a translation isn’t unheard of there, but a political satire that is artfully and ingeniously constructed is a hugely welcome surprise. Translated by the author with James Lever, Almost Dead is everything I always wanted and never expected from a big publisher.

Set in present-day Israel, these are intertwined stories of Croc—a secular, ambivalent Israeli—and Fahmi—a comatose and conflicted Palestinian suicide bomber. Around them, there’s a society in turmoil, a morass of Western-influenced post-industrial business people overlaying a subjugated population seething with enmity and regret.

Click here to read the full review.

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