BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Three Floors Up by Eshkol Nevo, translated by Sondra Silverston [in Booklist]

Three residents of a three-floor Tel Aviv apartment building reveal what really goes on behind closed doors. First-floor-domiciled Arnon tells an old army buddy that his young daughter was abused by their neighbor, his marriage is suffering, and the neighbor’s teenage Parisian granddaughter is about to cause an implosion.

Upstairs, Hani scrawls an explosive epistle to faraway confidante Netta, revealing envy over Netta’s more fulfilling life, then divulges how the isolation of motherhood incited desperate decisions regarding her estranged brother-in-law. On the third floor, retired judge Devora tells all to her late husband via answering machine messages; at 66, she finally claims her own agency when young demonstrators for social change urgently seek her legal expertise.

Best-selling Israeli novelist Eshkol Nevo, his Hebrew fluidly translated by Sondra Silverston, cleverly infuses these quotidian albeit schadenfreude-inducing dramas with numerology (“everything is in threes”), Freudian analysis (the “three floors up” of id, ego, superego), the power of secrets (plus the greater threat of revenge), and the literary necessity for confessions (“if there is no one to listen–there is no story”).

Review: “Fiction,” Booklist, October 1, 2017

Readers: Adult

Published: 2015 (Israel), 2017 (United States)


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