top of page
shavit_figures of speech_italian wizo.jpg



Sarai Shavit

Fiction, Achuzat Bayit, 2022

Special ADEI WIZO Adelina Della Pergola Literary Prize

FIGURES OF SPEECH by Sarai Shavit is a taut, short novel about desire, centered on the affair between an older writer of renown and a young literature student, perfect for fans of ASYMMETRY by Lisa Halliday and Jenny Offill's DEPT. OF SPECULATION.


The affair was torrid, all consuming, and brief. Now, twenty years after their parting, the young woman bumps into her old flame at a writer's conference. In 176 brief chapters, she attempts to make sense of their liaison in the face of its loss. Written in the form of a love letter, these delicate snapshots of finely wrought prose are composed in passion by the young woman but are never dispatched to her lover. FIGURES OF SPEECH explores an asymmetrical affair from the inside, teasing out time-worn cliches and giving us a protagonist who walks freely into a relationship where she is always at a disadvantage, yet maintains her agency throughout. 


In a superb translation by Joanna Chen, FIGURES OF SPEECH lays bare the pleasures and the perils of forbidden entanglements, and the strength of a woman who demands to have what she desires. It is a book that begs to be consumed in one sitting.

Rights Sold:

Italy: Neri Pozza


"[The novel] enchants with its musicality and captures the reader through its refined writing style. With extraordinary power of expression, Shavit draws a universal love story intertwined with the themes of loss and search for identity. In the background stands the Israeli literary culture and the clash between the generations of writers which are personified in the two protagonists." —ADEI WIZO Adelina Della Pergola Literary Prize jury

“[In FIGURES OF SPEECH] the clarity of writing is the antidote to the madness of love. Sparse, intense, and refined.” —L’Espresso


“FIGURES OF SPEECH flows like water, hypnotizes; it has an almost enigmatic quality to it.” —Il Giornale di Vicenza


“FIGURES OF SPEECH is breathtaking in its beauty, painful and spectacular at the same time.” —Eshkol Nevo, critically acclaimed author of THE LAST INTERVIEW and THREE FLOORS UP


“A brave, exceptional piece. [Shavit has] an amazing ability to tell a story.” —Hila Blum, author of HOW TO LOVE YOUR DAUGHTER


“Sharp, meticulous, and touching. FIGURES OF SPEECH is a rare and strange flower in the vast field of Israeli literature.” —Ayelet Gundar-Goshen, award-winning author of WAKING LIONS and THE LIAR


“Although FIGURES OF SPEECH is concise, reading it feels like getting lost in an absorbing, hefty novel. A beautiful, powerful, and complex story.” —Haaretz Best Books of the Year list


“Shavit succeeds in melding the magic of poetry into the language of prose. This is a sharp, mesmerizing, and precise book.” —Yedioth Ahronoth


“It's hard to pick a single quote from this book because it is beautiful throughout. Is it a narrative poem? A poetic novel? A love letter in short segments? Does it matter? When it works, it works.” —Maariv


“Sarai Shavit creates a magical moment in FIGURES OF SPEECH. She gently and sensitively blends poetry and prose into a book mesmerizing in its language. This is a taut and perfect novella by one of the sharpest and most talented writers working today.” —Evrit


“Special and feminine, sexy and exciting.” —Calcalist


“Short, beautiful, and powerful. A book that stays with you long after reading.” —Mako

bottom of page