the short story project

Gabriella (from Liebchen)

Eli Hirsch On:

Gabriella (from Liebchen) by Yossi Waxman

When I first read Liebchen by Yossi Waxman, I didn’t know it was Waxman who had written it and didn’t know his name. I was, at the time, a judge on a 2003 ACUM award panel of judges reviewing literary pieces that were submitted anonymously. The novel swept us all away immediately – me and the other panel members, Haim Be’er and Savion Librecht – with its amazing originality and force. Only one year later, when the book was published and sent to me, I realized who we had given the prize to. This week I reread Liebchen and found that what we wrote at the time to explain why we had chosen it was still very pertinent. And this is what we wrote (with some minor changes due to context and the time that has passed): “Liebchen tells of the great love between Gabi and Gabriella – a young, successful and happily married man and an eccentric elderly Holocaust survivor who lives with her cats and confronts her nightmarish memories day in and day out. This is a deep and uncommon romantic love that opens the hatch to a dark, horrifying world which constantly tests the readers’ sensitivity and draws them in with a magical lure… With its virtuosic precision of language, surprising ingenuity and rare talent for emotional balances, the author of Liebchen manages to turn the encounter between Gabi and Gabriella into a convincing and powerful love and the twilight zone in which they function into a trustworthy world that is rich with meanings and full of light.”