Over at Tablet, Tal Kra-Oz talks to Israeli novelist Shani Boianjiu about life after the publication of her first book, The People of Forever Are Not Afraid. Boianjiu joined us for a Twitter Book Club a few weeks ago, where she discussed being 25 and told us she definitely wasn’t the voice of a generation.
Kra-Oz chats with Boianjiu about her newfound literary acclaim, her childhood friends, and what’s going to happen when her book gets translated into Hebrew:
Sitting in a café in northern Israel, many of her friends having been called up for reserve duty in Gaza for operation Pillar of Defense—and facing the real possibility that she could be mobilized—Shani Boianjiu, 25, reflected on her childhood. “I really sympathize with people in the south,” she said. “We spent our daily life under the constant threat of attack, and only occasionally did that get any coverage. Now when half a rocket falls in the center of the country, that gets all the attention.” Though born in Jerusalem, Boianjiu grew up a two-hour drive from Tel Aviv, in Kfar Vradim, a small village in western Galilee. Just six miles from the border with Lebanon, it is one of the “frontline communities” that suffered Hezbollah rocket attacks throughout the 1990s. Kfar Vradim is part of Israel’s so-called periphery, in a country whose center is the narrow strip of land around Tel Aviv—40 miles long and 10 miles wide between Hadera and Gedera.
That feeling of remoteness pervades Boianjiu’s childhood memories as well as her novel, The People of Forever Are Not Afraid, which was published in English last September to great acclaim. Episodic in nature, the novel revolves around the lives of three young Israeli women—Lea, Avishag, and Yael—during their last years of high school and through their military service and civilian life after being discharged.
Shani Boianjiu Goes Home Again [Tablet] Previously: Culture Kvetch: Shani Boianjiu and the Problems of Youth