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Ari Lieberman

Fiction, 2014

Don Quixote meets Catch-22 in modern Israel

Ari Lieberman’s OUT OF THE BLUE begins with Shmunik, a somewhat pathetic security guard at a mall in the Israeli coastal town of Ashkelon, who is pining for his lost girlfriend and long-lost mother. Having given up on his dream of becoming a famous painter, he feels lost and unaccomplished – until he meets Tom, a deranged Army general who speaks in biblical verse and believes the earth is under attack from celestial creatures reminiscent of the aliens in the Space Invaders video game. Tom and Shmunik set off on a quest to reclaim their lost loves.

Tom’s old flame Smadar is a vulgar middle-aged poet and the mother of Noga, the star of a reality TV show in which she is held captive in a Galilean tower, waiting for one of six contestants to liberate her. Tom, who sees no distinction between reality and reality TV, breaks onto the set and frees the damsel himself. This sets in motion a series of events borne of the conflict between the bogus reality manufactured by television and the inner reality of these innocent dreamers: the shooting of Noga, and of Adam, an Arab intellectual who wants to infiltrate Israeli society with an army of pretend-Jews, and the struggle of the IDF Chief of Staff who battles the Magnolia-like phenomenon of dead Arab bodies falling from Israeli skies. Through these ironic, preposterous and sometimes appalling incidents, the novel deftly addresses the traumatic consequences of war, specifically the 1982 Lebanon War, and the continuing strain between Jews and Arabs. 

Rights Sold to:

Israel, Yediot Books/Miskal


“A wild ride, alternately funny and painful and touching. Among other things, I think it's the best version in Hebrew fiction of the Don Quixote-Sancho Panza paradigm since [Mendele Mocher Sforim’s] The Travels of Benjamin III. I love the way it veers from biblical Hebrew to vulgar colloquial. The character of Noga seems to me a special triumph – she is cheap and ignorant and harsh but there is also something authentic as a person about her.” – Robert Alter

“Ari Lieberman’s Out of The Blue is unlike anything I have read in the last few years…. Choosing to write in Hebrew – and about Israel – while living in exile has given rise to some daring creations, more experimental both in form and content than the literature issuing from the mainstream of the local literary scene…” – Tamar Merin, Ha’aretz

“Lieberman’s heroes, strange as they might be, are worthy of love… Lieberman genuinely likes his lunatic duo and those that surround them. He embraces them with warmth and makes us feel sympathy for them. At every stage in their quest they become a little more human, a little truer. The line between sanity and madness, between normality and the bizarre, is so brittle and thin. For each of us, it can snap in an instant and cast us into an abyss of hallucination, entrap us in a private world of imagination and thought which none but ourselves can comprehend. And perhaps there is no such line at all. Perhaps we are all mad, or perhaps the people that seem crazy to us are just as sane as we are, or even saner, seeing as they do the truth which we cannot see, with innocent eyes.” – Ran Bin Nun, Yediot Acharonot

“One of the most extraordinary books you’ll encounter anytime soon” – Neta Halperin, Israel Hayom

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