Novel looks at Israel's untold stories, fringe characters

Wed Sep 19, 2012 7:06am EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Elaine Lies

TOKYO (Reuters) - Yael, Avishag and Lea grow up together in a remote Israeli town, graduating to military service in the Israeli army, where they come of age amidst a mix of the routine and tension that comes from living with the constant possibility of danger.

"The People of Forever are Not Afraid," Shani Boianjiu's debut novel, is based partly on her own experiences in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), but the young author feels that it was leaving her native land to study abroad that ultimately freed her to write.

"I think this book could not have been written had I not lived someplace else besides Israel - I was in the U.S. for quite some time," Boianjiu, 25, said in a telephone interview.

"To me, it was just completely normal to assume that you could go about your regular day but then one day something might happen - missiles would start falling. I'd never even thought about it as something that wasn't normal."

A rapid transition from her own years of compulsory military service to university life in the United States left Boianjiu without time to reflect on her army experience, where she trained other soldiers in marksmanship - a situation that eventually led her to write the linked stories of the novel.

"I'm forever fascinated by the kind of story that hasn't been written yet," she said. "So I like finding fringe characters, immigrants, people that live in parts of Israel that are not so commonly portrayed."

Her three heroines gossip, fight boredom and try to maintain their friendship even as they come of age in the military, an environment that Boianjiu said came as a bit of a shock.

"It's surprising for a lot of women in high school who are used to competing with guys on a level field and when you're drafted all of a sudden the opportunities that you have are reduced drastically because you're a girl," she said.   Continued...