Maya Feldman On:
Beit Hakerem. Jerusalem, 1985 by Nir Baram
In several places Nir Baram goes back to a notion by the author Mia Couto: “A time when the world was our age.” The longing for such an emotional and historical time (time lost particularly in Baram’s novel “The Remaker of Dreams,” from which this story is taken), and it’s transition from past to present to future, from the real to the imaginary – are ever-present in Baram’s writing; when I read his work, it often seems to me as if there is a room somewhere in the universe where the world, Nir Baram and I are the same age. “To be a contemporary,” says Marina Tsvetaeva, “is to create one’s time, not to reflect it. Or, to reflect it, only not like a mirror but like a shield.” Nir Baram’s neighborhood of Beit Hakerem in Jerusalem of the 80’s crystallizes a dazzling, precise and incredibly sensitive statement in Israeli literature, which always pays some kind of tax to the history of the state. It also recounts my own childhood to me. “To be a contemporary is to create one’s time—that is, to do battle with nine-tenths of what’s in it,” Tsvetaeva continues. And indeed, this story is both a caress and a slap in the face, not empathy but a moment in which the heart is clenched and the consciousness clears, and you feel like picking up the phone and calling the person who wrote it, and breaking the boundaries of this world.