Michelle Lin Recommends

A Good Place for the Night by Savyon Liebrecht, Persea Books. I found this Israeli author’s short story collection at the Independent and Small Press Book Fair back in November. The first story, “America”, had me hooked after the second page. The collection is made up of seven short stories, each taking place in a different locality (America, Germany, Hiroshima, a kibbutz, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and a post-apocalyptic world.) The book blurb says that the collection focuses on “place, on men and women physically or emotionally distant from home.” I would go further and say that place is, in these stories, often an imagined construct (most obviously in “America”). The collection also seems, to me, to be about the precarious lies we tell ourselves to make our lives bearable, and what happens when these lies fall apart. To summarize: “America” is told from the point of view of a little girl whose mother runs off with another man and his daughter to America, and her and her father’s attempts to cope with this betrayal. “The Kibbutz” is about an orphaned child of a mistreated and mildly handicapped couple, and his eventual discovery of the truth behind their deaths. “Germany” focuses on an Israeli reporter in Munich who is covering the trial of a former Nazi commander responsible for his father’s death. “Hiroshima”, one of my favorites in the collection, is about an Israeli woman’s nine years’ stay in Japan and the terrible forces that drive her to leave. And “A Good Place for the Night”, the title story, is about a post-apocalyptic world, an inn where several survivors take refuge. I would highly recommend this book.”

Michelle Lin writes for New York Brain Terrain, a cultural events blog for NYC.

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