The biggest point of contention with this year’s Sapir Prize, Israel’s equivalent to the Booker, was who the judges were and how they came to their shortlist of five nominees. But controversy should not take away from the achievement of winner Noa Yedlin for her “Ba’alat Bayit” or “House Arrest,” her second novel. Yedlin works as a journalist and is currently the deputy editor of the weekend magazine of the Ma’ariv newspaper; her first book was a collection of her columns “You ask, God replies” (2005), and her second a novel, “Track Changes” (2010). As winner, Yedlin will receive a 150,000 NIS prize, translation of her novel into Arabic and into another language of her choice.
The novel is about a family from the elite Ashkenazi echelons of Jerusalem society and their house on Al-harizi Street in Rehavia, a prestigious and older neighborhood, quiet and leafy. The Fogel’s 40-year-old son, Asa Fogel, a divorced and unemployed PhD in New Age culture from a critical perspective, lives there and pays rent to his mother, Elisheva. She is a professor and the head of a prosperous center for peace studies. She is also accused of embezzling 3.4 million shekels from the research institute. The Fogel siblings, a real estate agent and a psychiatrist who is developing a reality TV show to give psychiatric advice to adolescents, fall out on different sides of the question about the guilt of their mother. Asa, is most entangled — his ex-wife had an affair with the journalist who first broke the embezzlement story and he does not know whether his mother is using him as a cover for her own dealings or not.
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