I remember when I left a Santana concert somewhere in the 80s and I couldn’t think, I couldn’t put into words the intense feelings inside me. And maybe music wasn’t meant to be bent into words. When I finished reading The World is a Rumor I felt similar feelings, everything was confused inside me. I thought it couldn’t be that someone wrote something like this, in Hebrew. So I instantly read the whole book again. And to be absolutely sure I read it a third time. And now I can say responsibly that this is a great book. It’s a little problematic for me to say that it’s “a virtuoso book” because I said it about Nir Baram’s previous book, At Night’s End – yes, a virtuoso book in my opinion; only that The World is a Rumor is an even better book than the virtuoso predecessor.
′′I can see the dreams in their entirety, everything, and then return them to people in one sequence, like a memory, nothing disappears.” says one of the characters in the book. And Nir Baram can indeed, but it’s not just about dreams. He brings it all back, in one sentence, nothing slips away. Everything, I mean, life and everything.
Everything. And the intention in everything is everything that happens to a person inside, the continuum of thoughts, fears, dealing with every day, social connections, reactions, ideas, actions…-everything. The story tells of one character, Jonathan, but the accuracy in the descriptions of Jonathan’s experiences made me feel like the author turned me inside out and put on the page my whole inner world, or if you want: the inner world of every person. Yes, at first glance the reader may think that The World is a Rumor is a book in which the author tells about his life. And it may be so, I believe that every writer first draws from his own experiences. But the sources from which Baram created this “wonderful cake” is not the main thing. He took the best materials and created a wonderful symphony with them. It’s like he drew a map, a map of the inside. He managed to penetrate the inner chaos and put it on the page with such clarity until you can feel it, smell it or as it says in the book: ′′He showed her her nightly dreams with clarity, in one sequence, and she discovered more and more secrets that fell into the depths of her consciousness.”
And indeed it is about the depths, great travels in time, and consciousness. It felt like the great image of Gilgamesh who is unable to say goodbye to his good friend Enkidu spills over to Jonathan who refuses to say goodbye to his good friend Joel; despite their complex relationship. The lament on Joel, the love for him, threw me straight to Achilles’s tears on Patroclus. But I have no intention here to dive into the whole world of mythical and literary associations that The World is a Rumor is provoking, I guess respected professors at universities will do this for years.
As said, the book talks about ′′ life and everything ′′ and it also refers to the very contemporary present, which includes coronavirus, quarantine, and their social and personal impacts. It deals with tectonic changes in our lives, for example, the role of the father. Baram presents us with a father who until a few years ago had no right to exist. A father who describes feelings that every mother knows but until recently they allegedly belonged to mothers only, and here’s a quote – ′′Not long after Itamar was born, he started to feel beating in his body, another breath, another consciousness that he is occupied with. All his life, even when he loved people and even with Yoel in his childhood days, he was one in his consciousness, whereas after Itamar was born his consciousness split between him and the child. “ Fatherhood is one of the main topics in the book and it is tested in many directions including the society’s attitude to the change that is happening.
As said, the book is about life and it has everything, dreams, irritating events from the past that refuse to die. Show me one Human being in the world that doesn’t know this turbulence – bigotry, torment, friendships, relationship, parenting, loves. And besides, there is also a great story and there is suspense… What more can you ask for? What a privilege that I can read this fine book in its original language. Welcome it with stormy applause – The World is a Rumor by Nir Baram. (Tami Zar, Review, My Books, Blog)