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Michal Govrin

Fiction, 2002

How do we hold the torn pieces of our story together, asks Ilana Zuriel, a rebellious left-wing architect who returns to Israel after a stormy life of love and creativity in various Western capital cities.  Her renewed encounter with the reality in Israel, where she sits in a sealed room with her two children during the Gulf War, catalyzes a deep change in Ilana. This intense novel seeks to capture and encompass the Zionist-Israeli story through the heroine’s relationship with her father, husband, Palestinian lover and, especially, her beloved city of Jerusalem. Govrin's startlingly relevant novel destabilizes with savage and anarchic humor an entire line of cultural and political stereotypes.


Rights Sold:

France: Sabine Wespieser Editeurs; Israel: Am Oved; USA: Riverhead NY


“Out of the brokenness of an interrupted life, Michal Govrin has built an entire world – more than one, in fact, for here is modern Israel in dialogue with its Zionist past, haunted by the Holocaust and shattered by the violence of the political present.  All this lives in Govrin’s resurrected heroine, whose desperate groping for an impossible wholeness is as moving as it is interesting.” – Jonathan Rosen

“There is something beautiful and destabilizing in Michal Govrin’s second novel – a kind of a fever charged with turmoil, as if someone is saying 'I don’t know anymore where I am.’ The heroine in Snapshots has died in a car accident and we know where she is now, but where was she during her life? From one fragment to another, the doubts and the joys of her character present themselves, leaving all the same immense grey zones. Like in any existence, the stability of days hides a dizzying discontinuity. ‘How to tell it differently? Otherwise, how to tell? How to hold the fragments of our torn story?’ In the game of mirrors and in interactions proposed in the novel, these questions are posed not only to the characters but grip the reader as well." – Le Monde de Livres

“It’s a book burning with passion, hope and nostalgia. Poet and theater director Michal Govrin delivers an intimate and imaginative journal in which the emotions and wounds are equally intense. From New Jersey to Jerusalem, via Paris, this feverish reverie is the story of retrieving origins, whispered to oneself as a prayer.” – Le Figaro Litteraire

“It is impossible to summarize this abundant novel in a few words – it is as cerebral as it is carnal/sensual, capturing the reader with the ambition to embrace the disappointed dreams of half a century of national history through the destiny of one woman.” – Le Figaro Magazine

“… [A] superb portrait of a woman divided between ideal and reality… [T]he plot unwinds through multiple voices: they overlap, answer each other across time and place, detail a landscape, pick up a conversation or record a lived moment. These short or long fragments, organized according to their place of composition  (New York, Paris, Jerusalem etc)… nourish, accompany, question and reveal not only the heroine to herself, but the reader as well. Anecdotal and philosophical, they comprise the portrait of a passionate, politically left-leaning woman who is animated by ideals and attached to her own freedom as well as the freedom of others, and who is forced to interrogate her roots. Snapshots is a discovery of a true literary voice.” – Le Soir

“Snapshots recalls the fragility of all existence and the vanity of the desire to possess.” – Nouvel Observateur

“Sebald in Israel.” – Forward

“Michal Govrin, who started her literary career as a poet, finds in the novel the most delicate and sharp expression to what Baudelaire called ‘small poems in prose.’ This book is indeed ‘a great poem in prose.’” – Ha’aretz Book Review

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