Metropolitan Books, 9780805066029, 272pp.
Publication Date: August 1, 2003
Set in Tel Aviv and Paris, a powerful story of love, friendship, regret, and war, as current as today's headlines
Ronit Matalon's fiction has been praised as "haunting," "inventive," "refreshingly daring." Now in a graceful, illuminating second novel, she tells a provocative story of two loves, two partings, two worlds, two women: Ofra and Sarah.
When Ofra is called from Tel Aviv to France to attend the funeral of her beloved cousin Michel, she escapes a life lived vicariously through Sarah, her oldest friend, a photographer and political activist. In Paris, Ofra enters the embrace of her French family and the intimate world of domestic life, while Sarah, in Tel Aviv, drifts even farther from her husband, Udi. Drawn to a Palestinian nationalist, she takes on the fight for a girl from Gaza who has been injured by an Israeli bullet and needs medical treatment that can only be had inside Israel. As Sarah adopts the cause with near- destructive zeal and pledges herself to the suffering of others, her own child goes untended, with dreadful consequences for all.
Against a backdrop of national conflict, Bliss confronts the terrible dilemma of choosing between one's desires and one's beliefs, between grand ideological commitment and the more mundane claims of family. With vivid, penetrating prose, Matalon has delivered a large and resonant work that is as artful as it is affecting.