Book Review: The Wadi, Tragedy, and the Song of Songs: Meir Shalev’s Two She-Bears (Knopf Doubleday, 2016)

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Book Review: The Wadi, Tragedy, and the Song of Songs

Meir Shalev, Two She-Bears (Knopf Doubleday Publishing, 2016)

A wonderful tale that interweaves several generations of an Israeli family, Two She-Bears will keep you riveted. The narrator, Ruta, sees the world in creative, funny ways that belie tragedy and sorrow (in describing her husband’s attempt to woo her a few years into marriage, she writes of “that Song of Songs way of his.” But that was before he went silent for twelve years). The themes are what (some) lives—and good fiction, too, are made of—murders, adultery, death, birth, and gardening. But these topics are interwoven in such a way as to delight and surprise: a turn in the desert wadi in the direction of the old carob tree leads the reader into hidden family histories. The reasons a man rises early in the beginning of the book, pulling on work clothes and boots, only becomes clear at the very end. Rarely does a book engage and surprise in such a way. Give it a read. I’ve already ordered another one of Shalev’s books, as I have a feeling I won’t be getting enough of his writing anytime soon.


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