Omri Herzog On:

Twice by Bella Shaier

Bella Shaier is one of the most important writers in the new Hebrew literature, and I’m writing these words with absolute confidence, without any sense of exaggeration, even though only one book and a few stories published in literary journals are available to attest to it, for the time being. The short story “Twice” which ends her book “Children’s Mate” is perfect in its architecture, the complexity of its simplicity, the way it constructs a world and characters with only few words. It glimmers also in its elusive essence, which could be called “truth”; that is, in the sense that a person is telling you a truth through fiction, a truth that is most pressing. This truth is linked, as it often is, with pretending: the pretending of the protagonist Genya, who cleans an office building, lives with her daughter and son-in-law and can’t see very well. There isn’t as much as a speck of insincerity in this pretending; because it has an internal side and an external side, it has a duplicity of one word, “Twice”, which Genya says to the bus driver after work; once it serves as a foreign testimony to the alienation, loneliness and lack of options, and the second time it is the rebellious and independent stance of a person who had to give in but, even if she herself isn’t aware of it, hasn’t given up.   

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