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The ground floor of Israeli literature: Dror Mishani is building a solid tier in "Faith" - Walla! culture


In his book "Faith", Dror Mishani builds an impressive portrait of people and places of occurrence, but it is precisely out of so meticulous realism that a serious and poignant discussion develops between the lines on all the "great existential questions."

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The Ground Floor of Israeli Literature: Dror Mishani Builds a Solid Pillar in "Faith"

In his book "Faith", Dror Mishani builds an impressive portrait of people and places of occurrence, but it is precisely out of so meticulous realism that a serious and poignant discussion develops between the lines on all the "great existential questions."


  • Dror Mishani

Udi Ben Saadia

Tuesday, October 19, 2021, 10:28 Updated: 10:32

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On what we base our "knowledge" about the world.

Dror Mishani (Photo: Yanai Yechieli)

There are several ways in which one can start talking or thinking about "Faith," Dror Mishani's new book, and the third in which he returns to the character of Detective Avraham Avraham of Holon. One way - I do not know at the moment if the most successful - is to start from Mishani's previous book, "Three", which came out three years ago, in which he said goodbye to his beloved detective for a while, and turned to writing a novel about three heroines. Three women.

In an interview with him at the time, there was a lot of talk about Mishani's impressive ability to design women's figures in such detail and fullness, but I at least felt that something else was up in the air: at the center of the second part of that book stands a foreign worker named Amelia. She goes every Sunday to St. Peter's Church in Jaffa and looks for a sign from God that she is on the right path, and slowly she realizes that maybe he is not directing her in the language of words and letters, but in another language "that to understand it one has to open all the windows and let things in ..."

I thought then that it was a great book, but maybe Mishani is a little apprehensive about "going big", whatever the meaning of those two words may be, meaning staying a little longer in this world where looking for signs from above. Instead, he consciously chooses to reduce and end the book with a Givatayim lawyer who murdered two women (I will stop here so as not to spoil those who have not yet read that book) - that is, to stay within the safe and familiar boundaries (say) of the detective genre.

Today, as I read his new book, Faith, I realize I may have been wrong. Mishani is building an impressive portrait of people and places of occurrence here again, but it is precisely from such meticulous realism that you understand that a serious and poignant discussion is developing here between the lines about all the "great existential questions."

At the center of the book are two episodes. First: the mystery of the death or murder of a man named Rafael Shoshani, who arrives in the middle of the night from Paris to an almost abandoned and empty hotel on the shores of Bat Yam. Second: What is behind the story of the abandonment of a one-day-old baby in a cafe near Wolfson Hospital in Holon. The first interrogation is supervised by Rabbi Avraham Avraham, and the second by his assistant, Estee Wahba, but the two interrogations intertwine in a clever and sophisticated way, as anyone who dives deep into the pages of the book will discover.

Mishani himself has once written that any detective story can be read twice: once out of accepting the detective's authority as an observer and commentator, and once out of observing the detective himself as blind, "an observation that rejects his status as an observer and commentator, or at least casts doubt on him."

Here he even bothers to attach to the researcher Wahba eye disease, which of course strengthens the human aspect in her character, but at the same time also expands the discussion on the fundamental question - what do we really know about the people we meet or research, and especially what we know about the world and legality (If any) that motivates him.

In both interrogations, a kind of "game of mind" develops between the interrogator and the interrogee, but beneath it unfolds a larger and broader matter that raises a series of basic questions - on what do we base our "knowledge" about the world.

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Sends a hand to the "fire" itself.

Cover of the book "Faith" by Dror Mishani (Photo: Ahuzat Beit)

This is a particularly acute and important matter, because through the interrogation of Superintendent Avraham Avraham of Holon, Mishani is reaching out to the "fire" itself - the depth of lies and sabotage and the sophisticated and deceptive work of Israeli intelligence services.

Some of the descriptions of those security institutions, and especially the violent and unstoppable way in which they operate and the system of lies and deceptions that they also spread at the feet of the police investigator, often cause a slight chill in the back. It also seems that some of the characters in that security establishment are quite familiar, and one can perhaps easily identify which of the institution's heads he relied on in the past when he created the frightening and terrifying character who says (with a clear wink to Cervantes' "Don Quixote"): "We have people who look like windmills They are actually monstrous giants with deadly arms that go very far. "

The differences between Holon, the seat of Rabbi Peked Avraham, and the northern Tel Aviv neighborhood where the Mossad official's home is located are also evident here, but I would not suggest going captive after this interpretive line.

Mishani rightly makes every effort to try to blur the all-too-recognizable hallmarks of Israeli reality, and yet they are present in almost every line of the book.

Also present is the pain of the characters, especially of the female characters - the interrogee Liora Talias, her daughter Daniel, and the interrogator Wahba.

When they hurt they scratch and injure, which is another rare moment that you need to know how to capture it under a huge layer of words.

Especially in the face of the pain of Superintendent Abraham - the man who lives all the time feeling like he lives “on the ground floor” and is unable or unable to climb up to the roof and see the whole picture because of the demons and fears that haunt him.

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Literary critic Bnei Zipper wrote at the time that Mishani's previous book "will be remembered as a work that heralded a new wave in Israeli literature no less than the one symbolized at the time by Amos Oz's novel Michael."

It is of course difficult for me to compete with the breadth of knowledge of the well-known editor, and in any case such tectonic movements are beyond the predictive realm of literary critics, successful and wise as they may be,

And just as a police investigator eventually decides to stay on the ground floor, not because fears have overwhelmed him, but because "the roof floor does not see people's faces," it is less important at the moment to wrap this excellent book in a series of dizzying headlines and glowing crowns.

Instead, one must understand in depth the seriousness with which Mishani is building another solid layer here within the emerging "building" of Israeli literature.

"Faith" / Dror Mishani.

Publishing a mansion.

263 pages.

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Source: walla

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