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Is Shimon Adaf Israel's Next Literary Luminary?

Gan Meir is the oldest public park in Tel Aviv; its central location has made it the starting point for Tel Aviv's annual Gay Pride parade as well as home to a dog run and a water-lily pond. Gan Meir is important not only for the rare green space for families it provides in the bustling city, but also, now, for how it is used in the private imaginings of Shimon Adaf, the 42-year-old Israeli writer of six novels and three books of poetry. Adaf, who is also head of the creative writing program at Ben Gurion University in Beersheva, is the 2013 winner of Israel's prestigious Sapir Prize for his novel Mox Nox. Gan Meir is part of the Tel Aviv setting for Adaf's third novel, Sunburnt Faces (2008), his first to be newly translated into Englisha coming-of-age story with fantastical elements whose opening section occurs in Netivot, in the south of Israel. Though he is a popular literary figure in Israel, he is not yet well known outside of the realm of Hebrew readers. Now, with Sunburnt Facesand Mox Nox slated for translation nextAdaf's unique take on modern Jewishness should deservedly reach a wider audience.

By email, Adaf suggested Gan Meir as the best meeting place for a first stop on a Sunburnt Faces tour of Tel Aviv. We sat on chairs in the sun in the park. There, he told me, the books' protagonist experiences "some kind of revelation." She doesn't understand the nature of her revelation and needs to go try to "bridge this gap between the world and texts." The revelation confuses her. She is trying not to find answersbecause there are no answersbut instead to "find the error to try to build her life around an error she can live with."

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Author:Kissileff, Beth
Publication:Tablet Magazine
Geographic Code:7ISRA
Date:May 2, 2014
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