Author pho­to by Mira Mamon

Ranen Omer-Sher­man speaks with Maya Arad about her book The Hebrew Teacher, new­ly trans­lat­ed into Eng­lish and out from New Ves­sel Press. Omer-Sher­man and Arad dis­cuss the expe­ri­ence of Israeli expa­tri­ates in the US, acad­e­mia and aging, and the evo­lu­tion of Hebrew literature.

Ranen Omer-Sher­man: It is such a plea­sure and an hon­or to have this exchange. You are high­ly regard­ed by so many of my col­leagues (and crit­ics!) not only as the most accom­plished Hebrew writer liv­ing out­side of Israel but one of the best of all con­tem­po­rary Israeli nov­el­ists. The Hebrew Teacher offers such deeply affect­ing por­tray­als of var­i­ous forms of estrange­ment, missed con­nec­tions, and dis­tances. I’m aware that in much of your ear­li­er work you didn’t tack­le the expe­ri­ence of Israelis liv­ing in Amer­i­ca in such a sus­tained way. When did you first real­ize that you were ready to shift your focus from Israel to the lives of expa­tri­ate Israelis? Have you reached the point where you felt you had less to say about Israel or were you sim­ply more drawn to the latter?

Maya Arad: I think my work has always touched on the pos­si­bil­i­ty of liv­ing out­side Israel. But it’s more than that: it was liv­ing out­side of Israel that made my work pos­si­ble. My first book was a nov­el in verse, Anoth­er Place, a For­eign City. It had to be writ­ten in a for­eign city” (Cam­bridge, Mass­a­chu­setts, and Gene­va, Switzer­land, where I was liv­ing at the time). It made no sense with­in the terms of con­tem­po­rary Israeli lit­er­a­ture and I wrote it in com­plete iso­la­tion from any lit­er­ary scene. And so it’s quite nat­ur­al that it ends (mild spoil­er) with the pro­tag­o­nist mov­ing to Van­cou­ver. Weird­ly, that book became a suc­cess. The Israeli read­ing pub­lic want­ed this dif­fer­ent angle.

It would be fair to say that over the years, the expe­ri­ence of Israeli expa­tri­ates in the US has moved from the back­ground to the fore­ground of my work. I don’t think there was a point when I decid­ed, con­scious­ly, that I have less to say about Israel. It’s true that as I spent more time in the US I found that there are so many sto­ries to tell about Israelis liv­ing in Cal­i­for­nia – an entire Comédie humaine, and I had so many ideas for books I want­ed to write. I do remem­ber, though, a point where this deci­sion became more con­scious: after I pub­lished the nov­el Mas­ter of the Short Sto­ry (2009), about the life and work of a writer liv­ing in Israel, peo­ple came to me and said, Wow, I would nev­er have guessed you don’t live in Israel. It was meant as a com­pli­ment, and I thought: is it real­ly a com­pli­ment? Do I want to pre­tend I am liv­ing in Israel? To ignore the fact that my life is based in the US? The nov­el I pub­lished right after that book, Sus­pect­ed Demen­tia (2011), about an elder­ly child­less Israeli cou­ple liv­ing in Cal­i­for­nia, puts immi­gra­tion and expa­tri­ate life at its center.

I should add that this is a rel­a­tive­ly new thing for Hebrew lit­er­a­ture. When I was grow­ing up, there were no Hebrew writ­ers out­side the US that I knew of, and Hebrew lit­er­a­ture itself was geo­graph­i­cal­ly large­ly con­tained with­in the bor­ders of Israel. I didn’t come across char­ac­ters who were Israeli expa­tri­ates in the books I read when I was grow­ing up, except one or two exam­ples of yordim (the deroga­to­ry name for Israelis who left Israel), who were often pre­sent­ed as mis­er­able and uproot­ed. But it’s not so much about ide­ol­o­gy as about geog­ra­phy. Israeli cul­ture was real­ly focused on the Israeli space. Per­haps the best exam­ple is one of the finest Israeli films which came out in 1972, But Where Is Daniel Wax? (direct­ed and writ­ten by Avra­ham Heffn­er). It’s about a vis­it to Israel by an expat musi­cian, Ben­ny Spitz. The film lit­er­al­ly ends, in one of the most famous scenes in Israeli cin­e­ma, with Spitz on his way back to the US, rid­ing up the esca­la­tor beyond bor­der con­trol at Ben Guri­on Air­port. The Israeli imag­i­na­tion end­ed there. I am so glad that is no longer the case. There are now quite a few Hebrew-speak­ing authors who live in Europe and the US.Recently there’s been an abun­dance of books that deal with the Israeli expe­ri­ence in the US. The Wolf Hunt by Ayelet Gun­dar Goshen, Hunt­ing in Amer­i­ca by Tehi­la Haki­mi, Big Fish by Ruby Nam­dar, to name a few. I don’t take it for grant­ed that I can have my books pub­lished and read in Israel while I live in the US, and I feel very for­tu­nate that I came of age as a writer at a time when Hebrew lit­er­a­ture has expand­ed its cov­er­age (both geo­graph­i­cal­ly and metaphor­i­cal­ly) beyond the land of Israel.

ROS: I espe­cial­ly admire the way you suc­cess­ful­ly nav­i­gate hav­ing gen­tle fun with rec­og­niz­able soci­o­log­i­cal types while retain­ing the com­plex human­i­ty of all of your char­ac­ters in the cap­ti­vat­ing com­plex­i­ty of the three novel­las that com­pose The Hebrew Teacher. You seem to be that rare kind of writer who achieves the fraught bal­anc­ing act of includ­ing both pathos and com­e­dy. But do you ever find your­self ask­ing if you’ve gone too far in your char­ac­ter­i­za­tions and forc­ing your­self to pull back a little? 

MA: I’ll answer this one very briefly. Usu­al­ly, the work required in edit­ing is the oppo­site of what you describe. Believe it or not, I find it hard to be cru­el to my char­ac­ters and often I re-read and real­ize I did not extract all the com­e­dy and pathos I could out of the sit­u­a­tion, and that I need to add to the unpleas­ant­ness. This usu­al­ly makes char­ac­ters more human, not less; more real­is­tic, less car­i­ca­tured. Peo­ple are awk­ward, and my job as a writer is to look at that with­out flinching.

ROS: In think­ing of the title sto­ry, I felt that those of us in acad­e­mia can­not help wor­ry­ing about the fate of Hebrew stud­ies in the uni­ver­si­ty. Even before the cur­rent war, things seemed pre­car­i­ous. As your poignant pro­tag­o­nist, Ilana, reit­er­ates, It wasn’t a very good time for Hebrew.” It seems so woe­ful­ly rep­re­sen­ta­tive of our inaus­pi­cious cul­tur­al moment. Does that mourn­ful sen­ti­ment express where you see things going?

MA: Mourn­ful sen­ti­ment is my mid­dle name. Peo­ple often men­tion this in rela­tion to my writ­ing. Some­times they call it nos­tal­gia. But to the ques­tion itself, yes, of course enthu­si­asm for Hebrew learn­ing is dimin­ish­ing, but so is enthu­si­asm for Russ­ian, Ital­ian, lit­er­a­ture, his­to­ry, phi­los­o­phy, and so much more. My hus­band, a pro­fes­sor of Clas­sics, thinks of The Hebrew Teacher as an ele­gy to the human­i­ties in Amer­i­can research uni­ver­si­ties. I wrote about Hebrew because this is what I know and what I feel close to, but I think it’s just a spe­cial case of a process we see all over, in acad­e­mia, lit­er­a­ture, and oth­er areas too. And this, of course, is not hap­pen­ing only in Amer­i­ca. As a Hebrew writer, I feel the dif­fer­ence between the sta­tus of lit­er­a­ture when I was a read­er, grow­ing up in the 1980s, and today. Lit­er­a­ture used to be the crown jew­el of Hebrew cul­ture. It had a spe­cial sta­tus, per­haps unde­served­ly, that oth­er forms of art didn’t have. Things are dif­fer­ent today – lit­er­a­ture is less promi­nent than oth­er forms of art, and peo­ple read less than they used to. This is the place where I feel a deep con­nec­tion with Ilana, although in many oth­er ways we couldn’t be more dif­fer­ent: some­thing we care deeply about (whether it’s Hebrew instruc­tion or lit­er­a­ture) is being mar­gin­al­ized, and there’s lit­tle we can do about it.

So, for me, The Hebrew Teacher” is on one lev­el a top­i­cal sto­ry about the sta­tus of Hebrew in Amer­i­can uni­ver­si­ties today, but on anoth­er lev­el it’s a sto­ry about grow­ing old and see­ing your life’s work los­ing rel­e­vance in today’s world, and this is the lev­el I am more inter­est­ed in. 

The Hebrew Teacher” is on one lev­el a top­i­cal sto­ry about the sta­tus of Hebrew in Amer­i­can uni­ver­si­ties today, but on anoth­er lev­el it’s a sto­ry about grow­ing old and see­ing your life’s work los­ing rel­e­vance in today’s world.

ROS: I think that for many read­ers, Ilana in The Hebrew Teacher” is such a rec­og­niz­able and even beloved fig­ure. Born in 1948, the year of the found­ing of Israel, she has a seem­ing­ly end­less reser­voir of enthu­si­asm for immers­ing her stu­dents in Israeli cul­ture, or at least that of Arik Ein­stein and the past gen­er­a­tions she knows inti­mate­ly. But after forty years of work­ing in the trench­es she remains an adjunct and her col­leagues are eager­ly mov­ing ahead with the hire of her least favorite can­di­date, the dis­tinct­ly non-Zion­ist Yoad, who nei­ther shares her enthu­si­asm for Hebrew lit­er­a­ture or Israel itself and is in fact an active pro­po­nent of BDS. He refus­es any con­tact with Hil­lel or Jew­ish adult learn­ers in the com­mu­ni­ty and seems to have only con­tempt for her. Though his cringe-mak­ing research on Hei­deg­ger as a Jew­ish writer” might seem to some read­ers like near par­o­dy, this char­ac­ter in fact seemed all too real to me, a char­ac­ter I rec­og­nize from my own insti­tu­tion. Is his extreme advo­ca­cy of anti-Zion­ism some­thing you see trans­form­ing the nature of Jew­ish and Hebrew stud­ies? Pre­sum­ably, things are health­i­er at Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty where you are Writer in Res­i­dence at the Taube Cen­ter for Jew­ish Stud­ies. Just how does the atmos­phere and morale feel late­ly in your sphere of academia?

MA: I feel for­tu­nate to be at the Taube Cen­ter for Jew­ish Stud­ies at Stan­ford. And, in gen­er­al, I feel sup­port­ed by the Stan­ford admin­is­tra­tion. I do feel the shock­waves, how­ev­er, through my eldest daugh­ter, who is an art stu­dent at Coop­er Union in New York and must deal with very unpleas­ant anti-Israeli and anti­se­mit­ic harass­ment, in a few cas­es direct­ed at her personally.

The Hebrew Teacher” was writ­ten not long after Oper­a­tion Pro­tec­tive Edge in Gaza, in 2014. I remem­ber think­ing for a moment, after Octo­ber 7, that this sto­ry had become irrel­e­vant – the words war in Gaza” have now tak­en on such a hor­rif­ic new mean­ing. But in fact the oppo­site hap­pened: peo­ple find it more rel­e­vant than ever to the cur­rent expe­ri­ence on col­lege cam­pus­es. Per­haps lit­er­a­ture does have a way of being pre­scient. There is the sense of Ilana’s shock, of no longer hav­ing a min­i­mal shared world­view between her and peo­ple on the far left like Yoad. But I think the sto­ry tried to cap­ture some­thing a bit more com­plex than just a polit­i­cal and ide­o­log­i­cal bat­tle between two rival sides. The sto­ry is told from Ilana’s point of view, which is very Zion­ist and pro-Israeli. But we see that there are moments where she is in agree­ment with Yoad on cer­tain issues, and she is also por­trayed, through some parts of the sto­ry, with a cer­tain irony. We know that the world is com­plex and that some­times the Yoads of the world have valid points, some­times the Ilanas do, and most of us have both an Ilana and a Yoad strug­gling inside each of us at any giv­en moment. Most Israeli expats, espe­cial­ly in acad­e­mia, find them­selves these days oscil­lat­ing between anger towards the Amer­i­can far left and anger towards Israel, with the one con­stant core being the love of the Hebrew lan­guage and cul­ture that we share. That’s prob­a­bly Yoad’s one fatal flaw, from the point of view of the sto­ry – he doesn’t care about Hebrew literature! 

ROS: How often do you vis­it Israel these days? Have you been back since the Octo­ber 7 atroc­i­ties? I read some­where that you spent your ear­ly years on Kib­butz Nachal Oz (I used to have fam­i­ly there too), which was one of the com­mu­ni­ties so vicious­ly attacked by Hamas. Were any of the peo­ple you grew up with vic­tims of that assault? Friends of mine late­ly have been say­ing Israel is now almost unrec­og­niz­able, so per­va­sive is the lev­el of gloom and despair. Are you opti­mistic that the soci­ety will even­tu­al­ly recov­er its for­mer con­fi­dence, opti­mism, and tenacity?

MA: I remem­ber see­ing, some­time in Sep­tem­ber, that Kib­butz Nahal Oz, where I grew up, was plan­ning to cel­e­brate its sev­en­ti­eth anniver­sary on Octo­ber 7 and think­ing, I wish I could be there. I have such fond mem­o­ries from the thir­ti­eth anniver­sary cel­e­bra­tion that I attend­ed as a child. Then of course this cel­e­bra­tion nev­er hap­pened. Nat­u­ral­ly, I know quite a few of the vic­tims and those kid­napped. Some of my class­mates lost their par­ents or chil­dren. My sister’s class­mate was mur­dered with her entire fam­i­ly, only the youngest child being spared. I haven’t been back to Israel since Octo­ber, but I also hear of gloom and despair every­where. I grew up in the shad­ow of the trau­ma of the Yom Kip­pur War, but my par­ents, who were adults at the time, tell me that 1973 felt like noth­ing in com­par­i­son with this. 

You ask if I’m opti­mistic. Oy, have you got the wrong num­ber… Opti­mism isn’t my strong suit. If any­thing, I am the oppo­site. In 1996, while I was a grad­u­ate stu­dent in the UK, I went to Israel to vote. That was when Netanyahu was elect­ed for the first time. The shock was so great – I couldn’t imag­ine that only a few months after Rabin was assas­si­nat­ed, the per­son who incit­ed and – in my view – helped bring about the mur­der – was elect­ed – that I felt some­thing was irre­triev­ably bro­ken that day. That was the point when my hus­band and I decid­ed not to go back to Israel, and we end­ed up in Cal­i­for­nia. One of the good things about being a pes­simist is that you are some­times pleas­ant­ly sur­prised, but sad­ly, in this case, I was right. Things have been going from bad to worse for years, and Octo­ber 7 was just a quan­tum leap. To answer your ques­tion – Octo­ber 7 was a life-chang­ing event that hap­pened very recent­ly. I’d be a com­plete fool if I were to make pre­dic­tions about whether Israeli soci­ety will even­tu­al­ly recov­er. What does recov­er” even mean in the after­math of Octo­ber 7? I think things will have to change. Hope­ful­ly for the bet­ter, but, as I said, I am a pessimist…

ROS: Make New Friends,” the alter­na­tive­ly scorch­ing and ten­der fam­i­ly dra­ma that con­cludes the book, bears so many rich psy­cho­log­i­cal insights when it comes to par­ent­ing in the time of cell­phones and the cru­el­ties of mid­dle school. I’m a par­ent of two so it also felt like it must have come from aching­ly per­son­al expe­ri­ence. Did you expe­ri­ence any­thing like the angst and over­pro­tec­tive­ness that drove Efrat, your pro­tag­o­nist who defi­ant­ly cross­es the line?

MA: You’d be sur­prised, but the seed for this sto­ry was plant­ed years ago, when my daugh­ter was a tod­dler and social media was still tod­dling as well. In 2006, I read an arti­cle about a thir­teen-year-old girl, Megan Meier, who com­mit­ted sui­cide after being harassed online by a boy she met in a chat room. It lat­er turned out that it was an adult woman in her for­tieswho pre­tend­ed to be that boy. She was the moth­er of anoth­er teenage girl, to whom Megan Meier had been mean at school. This was her revenge. I couldn’t stop think­ing about that, but as a writer, you can’t just decide now I will write this sto­ry.” It some­how has to come nat­u­ral­ly to you. And it nev­er did. And then my old­er daugh­ter start­ed mid­dle school and all of a sud­den this sto­ry was the most nat­ur­al thing to write. But the truth is, at its core, this is not a sto­ry about mid­dle school social life. It’s a sto­ry about peo­ple real­iz­ing their own lim­its, which is a uni­ver­sal expe­ri­ence that is made very pal­pa­ble through becom­ing a par­ent. We wish to be able to pro­vide every­thing, and we usu­al­ly bun­gle it. 

ROS: You write with such com­pas­sion and insight when it comes to the dis­ap­point­ments of aging char­ac­ters, espe­cial­ly your por­traits of old­er women and their rela­tion­ship to the past. Are there any clas­sic por­tray­als of women in world lit­er­a­ture you find your­self revis­it­ing? And when it comes to ren­der­ing the chal­leng­ing psy­chol­o­gy of aging, do you feel that you’ve become a bet­ter writer over time?

MA: Ali­son Lurie and Bar­bara Pym are two authors I love, who often write not so much about old age as of late midlife, that point when you’re old enough to real­ize your dreams won’t come true, but still have a long time ahead of you to mourn those unful­filled dreams. I’ve read For­eign Affairs by Lurie four or five times. Its pro­tag­o­nist, Vin­nie Min­er, a fifty-four-year old sin­gle woman who is described as home­ly” and elder­ly” and por­trayed as self­ish and even unkind. I just admire Lurie’s abil­i­ty to cre­ate a char­ac­ter that is so unlov­able, yet so touching.

I wrote Sus­pect­ed Demen­tia, about a Cal­i­for­nia-based Israeli cou­ple in their late six­ties, when I was in my late thir­ties. I tried to imag­ine what life would look like thir­ty years from then. In ret­ro­spect, I think I was about to enter midlife, writ­ing about a cou­ple who are at the very end of that stage and about to enter their elder years, and I used my own expe­ri­ence of tran­si­tion­ing through life to write it. I am now mid-way between those two stages, so I am slow­ly get­ting clos­er in age to my char­ac­ters and at some point I will know if I got it right. Regard­ing the oth­er ques­tion, I am in no posi­tion to tes­ti­fy about my own work. I’ve been a pub­lished writer for more than twen­ty years, and I do feel more expe­ri­enced now. There are mis­takes I made in the past that I wouldn’t make today. But I won­der if I also lost some­thing along the way – being fear­less, dar­ing to be more exper­i­men­tal, not feel­ing oblig­at­ed to live up to read­ers’ expec­ta­tions. As I said, it’s not for me to say. 

ROS: Anoth­er life­time ago it seems, I was a for­mer com­bat sol­dier. Where I live, I’ve often been asked to speak to the media, also com­mu­ni­ty groups, about recent hor­rif­ic events. Some­times those occa­sions are high­ly charged. Late last year I spoke at an inter­faith gath­er­ing at a church before a pre­dom­i­nant­ly Arab and Mus­lim audi­ence and things got a lit­tle rough. The most jaw-drop­ping moment came when a Jew­ish left­ist of my acquain­tance stood up to deny that the atroc­i­ties of Octo­ber 7 even occurred. How dif­fi­cult are con­ver­sa­tions in your world cur­rent­ly? In your posi­tion, are you ever pressed to take posi­tions on Mid­dle East­ern pol­i­tics, and if so, what have you been say­ing or think­ing lately?

MA: I feel that my world has turned upside down. Often I don’t know what to say and I don’t know what to think. And that’s okay with me. In fact, I am quite sus­pi­cious of peo­ple who are cer­tain beyond any doubt about their beliefs cur­rent­ly. My fun­da­men­tal beliefs – that every­one has the right to live in peace and dig­ni­ty – have not changed. But it’s going to be a lot more dif­fi­cult now to imple­ment this in prac­tice. I feel that peo­ple like me are cur­rent­ly under attack on sev­er­al fronts: Hamas and its atro­cious ter­ror­ist acts of Octo­ber 7, the far left which min­i­mizes or com­plete­ly ignores Israeli vic­tims, and the cur­rent Israeli gov­ern­ment, the worst the coun­try has ever had, which makes it extreme­ly dif­fi­cult to defend Israel’s acts. So, as you can imag­ine, I have many con­flict­ing thoughts and ideas that are not always com­pat­i­ble with each oth­er, and if I don’t have to, I don’t say any­thing. As the Bible says, There­fore the pru­dent keep qui­et in such times, for the times are evil.” I do not ini­ti­ate con­ver­sa­tions. When I am con­front­ed with a bla­tant denial of facts (like the pro-Pales­tin­ian activist who denied that Hamas ter­ror­ists com­mit­ted rape but claimed that hun­dreds of Pales­tin­ian women were raped by IDF sol­diers on Octo­ber 7), I stop the con­ver­sa­tion imme­di­ate­ly. There is a lim­it to what I can deal with. Most peo­ple are sym­pa­thet­ic to what Israel went through, and express sad­ness about the human lives lost on both sides, with which I cer­tain­ly agree. 

ROS: You’ve been liv­ing out­side Israel since 1994 and in this coun­try since 2002. Do you read more in Hebrew or Eng­lish these days? Are there nov­el­ists or oth­er writ­ers work­ing in Israel today that you espe­cial­ly admire? And in devel­op­ing your own craft, have you been more inspired by writ­ers in Hebrew or oth­er languages?

MA: I read some Eng­lish, but most­ly Hebrew. Part­ly it’s because I read Hebrew about five times faster than Eng­lish, mak­ing it so much more con­ve­nient and reward­ing to read Hebrew. But main­ly it’s because I’m a Hebrew writer, and I like to keep up with what’s being writ­ten in Hebrew. I recent­ly came to real­ize that it’s not just that I hap­pen to write in Hebrew, I am part of Hebrew lit­er­a­ture. That’s what I grew up read­ing, that’s how my writ­ing was shaped. If my brain were to be rewired and my moth­er tongue changed into Eng­lish overnight, I still wouldn’t be an Eng­lish writer in the sense that my upbring­ing, my sen­si­tiv­i­ties, my whole world, were formed with­in Hebrew lit­er­a­ture. I once served as a judge in a short sto­ry con­test for stu­dents writ­ing in Eng­lish, along with two oth­er Jew­ish Amer­i­can writ­ers. Things they found insen­si­tive I found harm­less, oth­er things I thought were cliched they thought were touch­ing. It could be just a dif­fer­ence between peo­ple, but I felt it also had to do with us com­ing from very dif­fer­ent cul­tur­al back­grounds and lit­er­ary con­texts. I have many writer friends in Israel whose work I love and admire – too many to men­tion here, so I’ll just pick two women writ­ers who are also close friends: Ayelet Gun­dar Goshen, whom I men­tioned already for The Wolf Hunt, and Noa Yedlin, whose nov­el, Stock­holm, came out in trans­la­tion last fall in the US. I could men­tion many authors I love and read exten­sive­ly, but it’s hard for me to tell who inspired me – that is for oth­er peo­ple to observe. Writ­ers I go back to again and again are the Israelis Aharon Meged (a won­der­ful Hebrew writer, author of many books I love, includ­ing the 1965 Great Hebrew Nov­el The Liv­ing on the Dead) and the play­wright Hanoch Levin; the Russ­ian writ­ers Nabokov and Tol­stoy; and then Lurie and Pym, men­tioned above.

ROS: Final­ly, I sus­pect that read­ers of The Hebrew Teacher, so ele­gant­ly trans­lat­ed by Jes­si­ca Cohen, will find your play­ful and unpre­ten­tious voice utter­ly irre­sistible and will wish to seek out more. You have eleven books of Hebrew fic­tion includ­ing a recent mys­tery nov­el set in Cal­i­for­nia. So obvi­ous­ly your Eng­lish read­ers have just reached the tip of the ice­berg when it comes to your high­ly acclaimed books. Are there cur­rent plans for future trans­la­tions that you can share? And are your works out in oth­er for­eign ver­sions? And giv­en your enor­mous pop­u­lar­i­ty among the Hebrew read­ers I know, not to men­tion your pro­lif­ic out­put, do you have any ideas about why you’ve only just begun to be translated?

MA: It’s a very good ques­tion. The short answer is, I don’t know. It’s always a mys­tery why some books get trans­lat­ed and some don’t (or, for that mat­ter, why some books sell and some don’t). Jes­si­ca Cohen, the book’s won­der­ful trans­la­tor, once shared with me her the­o­ry that when pub­lish­ers con­sid­er books in trans­la­tion, they are look­ing for some­thing extra, some­thing spe­cif­ic to the lan­guage and cul­ture of that book. There are enough Eng­lish nov­els about mar­i­tal strife or midlife cri­sis – no need to trans­late any more of those. In the case of Hebrew lit­er­a­ture, this means that it’s books about the Kib­butz, the IDF, or the Holo­caust that tend to get trans­lat­ed. I am so thrilled that New Ves­sel Press decid­ed to pub­lish The Hebrew Teacher, and I can now share that my most recent nov­el, Shan­im Tovot, will be pub­lished in 2025 by New Ves­sel under the title Hap­py New Years.

Ranen Omer-Sher­man is the JHFE Endowed Chair in Juda­ic Stud­ies at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Louisville and edi­tor of the forth­com­ing book Amos Oz: The Lega­cy of a Writer in Israel and Beyond.