A short History of Death

July 7, 2015EN

A short History of Death

At night I would prowl the empty corridors of the house and stop at the threshold of my parent’s room. I would stand behind the door, bend over and peek through the keyhole at my mother’s slender form. Curled up on the right side of the bed, the thick sheets covering her body, her head disappearing among them. Misery had descended on my mother since the sickness had invaded her body. Again and again she argued with Fate, asked for explanations, quoting the line she would mutter every year at the memorial for her mother Sarah: “lords pursued me in vain.”

One summer day, towards the end of the last year of her illness, we wandered through the cemetery looking for Grandmother Sarah’s grave. “Plot B, Row 4,” said my father, whose memory was his greatest pride. “No, it’s next to the black tombstone,” whispered my uncle tiredly, wiping the perspiration from his face. At one stage we all turned to Ran, who was known to have a perfect memory that preserves our history in his body.
When finally we found the grave, we stood around it and conducted the memorial. At its base there was the clear, unarticulated understanding that the daughter’s fate would be the same as the mother’s, and that was that.

Towards the end of the memorial she went up to the grave and said: “Don’t worry, Mother, I’ll be there soon too.” After that she turned to us with an arrogant smile lighting up her face, as though to mock us for artificial delicacy. Ran looked at her with great concentration, and suddenly I realized how he remembered everything: While we were all trapped in the moment, he was already organizing it as a memory.
In the car, my mother said: “When I was still a little girl, I learned about death. My life has always sheltered in its shadow. Ever since Grandmother Sarah died it has been humming around me relentlessly: repressed enough so that I would struggle with the mornings, not repressed enough so that I could fall asleep at night.”

That night I sat down to write an assay called “A Short History of Death.” Ran’s ability to remember everything was threatening to me. Every time I looked at him I imagined an abundance of memories organized like books on a shelf and felt that he was robbing us of the days to which all of us had been partner. Wrapping up every event, taking it from us and clearing out.
Right on the very first night of writing I discovered that I could not stop lying: I forged letters; I brought down a terrible plague that attacked all the residents of the street; I wrapped every event in exaggerations, splendor, terror; I characterized every one of our acquaintances with a certain characteristics and all of them were plotting against us. Every night, as I gazed at my mother through the keyhole, I would remember the aim of the project and take an oath to tell the truth. But I always went back to lying. I interpreted the fact that I did not describe what happened as a weakness, cowardice, a wicked gesture that was aimed at getting me away from dealing with those difficult days. The first sentence in the story was: “We learned the history of death/ not the one that isn’t ours/ which doesn’t interest us/ we aren’t philosophers.”

The task of learning death, writing it out of the experience of that woman, my mother-grandmother, was like throwing a ball at the wall: The look always came back to me blinded, humiliated in the dearth of knowledge. It was clear that we who were surrounding her would not be able to share the experience of the woman who knew that soon she would no longer exist. Against our will, we are planning our life without her, And she understands this, knowing that our imagination is already staging life after her. Indeed, we who trying to save her from the loneliness and will also accompany her in her death will always remain on the outside of her experience. She is receding from us, all the time, as though she senses this gap between us that grows wider all the time. The more we try to be close to her she recedes, fading in that twilit space and none of us can accompany her there. Compared to her, we are so alive.

The more the story progressed, the more its failures multiplied: Because there is no truth in it, it will not constitute completion for Ran’s memory, and I got no closer to my mother’s real death. After months and 20 pages I got tired of “A short History of Death” but did not yet dare to abandon it. I believed that it was my obligation to keep the heroine alive. Innumerable times I brought her close to the end of the story, and always, at the last minute, I stretched out a hand and brought her back to the realm of the living.
One day I tore the first page off the block of paper and placed it on my mother’s bed. That whole day I did not dare come home. Late at night I cautiously opened the door, waiting for accusatory lights from the living room, the worried voices of my parents. The house was dark and apart from the strains of “The Palaces of Versailles” coming from the phonograph in ran’s room, there was silence. When I passed by the door to my parents’ room in the corridor, I was called in. After they quizzed me with a few irrelevant questions, I was allowed to go about my business. Heavily, I sat down on my bed, pondering the meaning of the strange reception, and suddenly I discovered the first page lying on my pillow, its bottom part covered by the blanket, like a small child. With a red pen, there were about 10 corrections of the language marked on the page, and here and there superfluous words were crossed out.

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Nir Baram writes: well, ten days after my son Daniel was born I did this conversation with the writer PAUL AUSTER as part of a special newspaper project for our Book Week. It was something we scheduled a long time before it actually happened. Obviously, I was not ready and confused, but Auster was really understanding and generous and the entire first part of the conversion was about fatherhood! The project was edited by a great literary journalist and editor – Elad Zeret, and it turned out wonderful, and it includes many interesting writers (Margaret Atwood ). Soon our conversation will be available in English. The headline was: “Does fatherhood make you a better writer?”

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The popular culture website and TV station ‘The Guilty Code” made a TV interview with Nir Baram :”The Best novel of the year arrived to Mexico”

 

 

 

to watch the full interview press read more

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A.B Yehoshua, one of Israel most celebrated authors, writes to Haaretz about Nir Barams reportage “walking the green Line”: “And even though Baram has firm political and ideological views to which, with civic courage, he voices in every public platform, in these articles he consistently quiets the political and ideological passion within him so as to become a most attentive listener, one who, with noteworthy patience and moderation, records things that under other circumstances would surely make his blood boil. As a writer, he brings a richness and linguistic precision to these articles, which make it impossible to avoid contemplating the absurd situation that we continue to fashion with our own hands.

“At the stage we have now reached, Nir Baram’s effort is of particular importance, as he puts his great literary talent to use in an attempt to break through Israeli denial.”

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An article in NEXOS, one of Mexico most important Magazines:

“While reading Nir Baram I thought of Dostoevsky’s Demons, and how one passes through pages and pages without knowing what is the question of the novel. However, at the end, I discovered to my surprise that there is nothing more fascinating than reflecting on the theme of “Demons”. Something similar happens to me with Nir Baram. I know the comparison is risky… Baram bursts onto the literary scene with novels written in a way that confronts readers with their deeds, novels that engage in dialogue with the narrative of the early and mid-twentieth century while demanding a reflection on the present and future. Two of them, “Good people” and “world Shadow” have captivated the world of literature.

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An article in the Mexican newspaper Excelsior: “Baram one of the most brilliant writers in the world today. World shadow is a brilliant novel that from different plots and angles shows us the whole world”

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Radio W in Mexico about world shadow: “An epic novel about democracy the human spirit, violence and your own beliefs: A novel that will make you think!”

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A review in Mleinio, one of Mexico most important newspapers: “This novel is so brilliant and powerful, and the music of the language is so pure and marvelous that i almost cried when i finished it. Baram is one of the best writers in the world today”

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Babelia the prestigious culture supplement of El Pais which appears every Sunday published a one page project about Nir Baram. A profile and a review about “world shadow”: “Nir Baram leads an new generation in the Israeli literature with a total different approach to literature. World Shadow is a  huge and ambitious fresco that departs from the canons of Israeli literature.”

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Nir Baram has launch “World shadow” in Mexico with a visit there and interviews to Mexican TV, Radio and Newspares. Also he participate in a special evening about the novel with the Mexican writers Jorje Volpi and  Maruan Soto Antaki

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Acompanied by a photographer and a desire to hear the voices that are not normally featured in the media, award-winning novelist Nir Baram journeyed extensively around Israel and the West Bank during the past year. The chapters that constitute “Walking the Green Line” paint a complex political picture, as Baram talks to settlers and kibbutzniks, politicians and activists, ex-prisoners and soldiers, those born after the occupation began and those who remember Israel before June 1967. The major events of the past 12 months form a vivid background to “Walking the Green Line.” Over the course of the next few months, Haaretz will be publishing the chapters of “Walking the Green Line,” starting with the author’s visit to Balata refugee camp.

push to see the interactive project.

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An interview with ERNEST ALÓS for El Periódico: “Nir baram took a great risk by writing such a novel…”

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“World Shadow’ may be the most impressive novel that was written about this era of discontent. And now we are not talking just about the great characters but about psychology, politics, and violence.”

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raving review in ABC about world Shadow

May 5, 2015EN

A review by Mercedes Monmany in ABC: “Nir Baram is the great revelation of the Hebrew language, one of the most important novels of our times” ABC

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In one of Spain’s most important newspapers LaVanguardia there was a substantive review about “La sombra del mundo, “a grand political novel, a novel that shakes our comfortable way of thinking”

“Gran novela política, inteligente, que se enfrenta al sistema y a nuestra conformidad cómoda… a Sombra del Mundo pone el dedo en muchas de las llagas de nuestras vidas. Vaya por delante que se trata de un libro complejo y prolijo, profuso en los datos y descripciones, lejos de cualquier esquematismo, donde todos son buenos y malos segun a veces la hora del dia.”

 

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Nir Baram visits spain

May 5, 2015EN

Nir Baram will be in Spain between 18.5-22.5 to launch “La Sombra del Mundo”. He will hold events in Barcelona, Seville and Madrid as well as interviews and book singing events. Also will participate: The writer and editor Valerie Miles and the translator and Professor Ana Maria Bejarano  (Barcelona) the translator Isabel Marin (Seville) the writer and critic  Mercedes Mommany (Madrid).

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“An epic novel written with irony, humor and boldness,  a great novel that warns from the dangers that threaten the freedom of the human beings.”

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An outstanding review about “World shadow” in El Pais, the most important newspaper in the Spanish world: “Tremendous description of the evils passions, and hopes that shape the world today. One of the most ambitious novels I have ever read. A lucid and torrential story of revolution, politics and defeat…You can hear in world shadow echoes of the underworld by Don Delillo, Echoes of rebellion, commitment, literature.”

«Tremenda descripción de los males, pulsiones y esperanzas que recorren el mundo actual. De lo más ambicioso que he leído. Un relato lúcido y torrencial de la revolución, la política y la derrota.»

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Good People on the front page of El Pais

February 2, 2015ES

A different Israeli literature is possible

A young literary consciousness of Israel
Nir Baram faces Jewish clichés with the first novel in Hebrew about WW2 without focusing on the Holocaust

There is something intensely challenging in Nir Baram. in his work and his personality. In rebellion, he has done something that only an Israeli without fear can do. He has offered his country a novel portraying the pre-World War II horrors so disturbing: without portraying monsters or tell their bloody crimes, leaving barely seen the death of millions. Good people in Baram’s novel subject the course of history by two special human beings, full of talent and sensitivity. They tempt the reader with their fascinating personalities, and tragically end up choosing to be collaborators of the great evils of the twentieth century by a cruel and soulless opportunism. Their decisions have devastating effects and engulf themselves and the dignity of an entire generation.

To the full on-line article:

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Nir Baram was chosen as one of the 50 most interesting personalities in the Middle East by the Italian magazine Secolo Nuovo

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