Publication Date: Nov 05, 2019
List Price US $17.99
Trim Size (H x W): 5.5 x 8.5
List Price US $11.99
A powerful, astute novel that exposes how old passions can return, testing our capacity to make choices about what is most essential in life.
Ten years after she was seriously injured in a terrorist attack, the pain comes back to torment Iris. But that is not all: Eitan, the love of her youth, also comes back into her life. Though their relationship ended many years ago, she was more deeply wounded when he left her than by the suicide bomber who blew himself up next to her.
Iris’s marriage is stagnant. Her two children have grown up and are almost independent; she herself has become a dedicated, successful school principal. Now, after years without passion and joy, Eitan brings them back into her life. But she must concoct all sorts of lies to conceal her affair from her family, and the lies become more and more complicated.
Is this an impossible predicament, or on the contrary a scintillating revelation of the many ways life’s twists and turns can bring us to a place we would never have expected to be?
Excerpt from Pain
Here it is, back again, and although she’s been expecting it for years, she is surprised. Back again as if it never let go, as if she didn’t live a day without it, a month without it, a year, after all, exactly ten years have passed since then. Mickey asked, “Remember today’s date?” as if it was a birthday or an anniversary, and she racked her memory—they were married in winter, met the winter before that, the children were born in winter, nothing noteworthy occurred in their lives in the summer despite its length, which seems to call for countless events—and Mickey looked down, his gaze on her hips, which have thickened since then, and all at once the pain was back and she remembered.
Or did she remember first, and then the pain came back? Because she has never forgotten, so it wasn’t actually remembering, but rather existing totally in that burning moment, in the dawning recognition of the cataclysm, in the ghostly storm of panic, the solemn inertness of the silence: no bird tweeted, no fowl soared, no bull mooed, no ministering angels spoke holy words, the sea did not roil, people did not speak—the world was utterly still.
In time, she realized that silence was the one thing that hadn’t been there, but nonetheless, only the silence was burned into her memory: mute angels came and bandaged her wounds silently, amputated limbs burned noiselessly and their owners observed them with sealed mouths, white ambulances sailed soundlessly along the streets, a narrow, winged gurney floated towards her and she was lifted up and placed on it, and the moment she was detached from the blazing asphalt was the moment the pain was born.
Winner of the Jan Michalski Prize
“Shalev reminds readers in keen, often brilliant prose that love, like pain, is indelible…a riveting exploration of family, sex and motherhood.” —New York Times Book Review
“Always incisive on the complexities of family and relationship dynamics…Shalev plunges the reader into a whirlwind story of impossible choices.” —The Guardian, Best New Books in Translation
“Shalev is a vivid and impassioned writer.” —Kirkus Reviews
“With its heady musings on what makes love pure, Pain is a blistering novel that pits passion against ordinary commitments.” —Foreword Reviews
“A complex meditation on the intricate ripples of cause and effect in our lives.” —Booklist
“A midlife crisis novel with a lot of meditation over choice and chance and how they impact what follows, this story by Shalev…effectively depicts contemporary Israeli life.” —Library Journal
“An impressive and vivid account of a woman trying to deal with events she cannot control…[Shalev’s] visceral and textured descriptions of physical discomfort and agonizing pain add another dimension to the protagonist’s psychological complexity…exquisite.” —Jerusalem Post
“There are few living writers who can capture the fluctuations of human feeling with greater nuance and precision than Zeruya Shalev. To read her novels is to enter a profoundly familiar but usually unarticulated geography, where the push and pull of sexual desire, familial attachment, and anticipatory fears mingle to create an atmosphere of psychological suspense so acute the reader loses herself entirely. Pain is yet another work by this remarkable artist that left me amazed.” —Siri Hustvedt, author of Memories of the Future
“Zeruya Shalev is one of my favorite contemporary writers, her work always spiky and original, and Pain is a searing book, a wild and ravenous story of family entanglement and impossible yearning.” —Lauren Groff, author of Florida and Fates and Furies
“A great book that ends with a therapeutic catharsis.” —Amos Oz, author of Judas
“Captivating…a brilliant reflection on the dominance of the past over the present, of the ideal over the real, of the couple over the individual.” —Elle (France)
“Shalev does what she does best: telling family tales of love, of redemption and of disillusion, rich in emotional strength, inviting the reader to be swallowed up by the story and giving a sense of purification when it is over…The novel celebrates pain and sheds light on its role in emotional life.” —Haaretz
Praise for Zeruya Shalev:
“One of the most talented writers of our time.” —Leïla Slimani, New York Times bestselling author of The Perfect Nanny