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Husband and Wife by Zeruya Shalev
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Husband and Wife (2000)

by Zeruya Shalev

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1512122,103 (3.5)7
A rising star of international letters, Zeruya Shalev takes us on a compelling narrative journey in the exquisite and unsettling Husband and Wife. Na'ama and Udi Newman have many of the trappings of an idyllic shared existence. A couple since they were schoolchildren, they have grown together like vines and settled into a routine of calm domesticity, along with their young daughter, Noga. But in a scene worthy of Kafka, the quiet rhythms of their family life suddenly screech to a halt whenUdi wakes up one morning to find that he is unable to move his legs. The doctors quickly set about searching for a physical explanation, but it soon becomes painfully clear that his paralysis is a symptom of something far less tangible, and far more insidious than any of them had imagined. This one morning sets in motion a series of events that reveals a vicious cycle of jealousy, paranoia, resentment, and accumulated injuries that now threaten to tear the small family apart. Shaleve brilliantlycaptures the vulnerability and deceptive comforts of lives intertwined in this deeply disturbing portrait of a diseased marriage.… (more)

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» See also 7 mentions

What is the essence of a marriage? Or of parenthood? In this beautiful novel, Na’ama Newman expresses what it feels like to sense the impending dissolution of one’s own marriage. As a manifestation of marital difficulties, Na’ama’s husband Udi experiences paralysis which is diagnosed as “conversion” or physical symptoms with a psychological basis. In desperate attempts to avoid psychiatric care for Udi, the couple first takes a short trip and later invites Zohara, a Tibetan spiritual guide, to work her craft on them. The solutions, it turns out, cause as much harm as they do good. Complicating matters, their having a 10-year-old daughter who is ostracized by her peers is an additional stress for the couple. Na’ama, always the controller, sabotages any effort on Udi’s part to become closer to his daughter.

Although the writing is lyrical and flowing, the sentences run on and on in a style which may not be to everyone’s liking. The narrative is written this way purposely to fuel the reader’s imagination with Na’ama’s innermost thoughts and concerns. What evolves from this is a detailed story of how one woman learns to be true to herself and discover her role in relation to the other important people in her life. ( )
5 vote SqueakyChu | Feb 4, 2010 |
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On the first minute of the day, even before I knew whether it was hot or cold, good or bad, I saw the desert plain of the Arava, flat and desolate, growing pale bushes of dust, melancholy as abandoned tents.
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