As Befits Worthy Writing
© Ioram Melzer
Literature & Books, Ma'ariv 18.10.02
Sodot, by Corinna - a writer who grants us her first
name - is a most intriguing book. It turns out that Sodot
is her third book, with the first one published almost thirty
Yet the interest in Corinna does not conclude only in her
identity. On the contrary, Sodot is an interesting book, different
and indeed worthy.
The first encounter is with Corinna's unique language. I assume
the reader won't grasp this uniqueness at first, since the
book is written in everyday Hebrew, much alive and for sure
familiar. The wholeness of the book is evasive. You need to
read several tens of pages in order to understand what Corinna's
language is doing to you. With a most straightforward Hebrew,
seemingly simple, in short sentences, quite often devoid of
asides, additions or reservations, Corinna succeeds to reach
the reader's heart and set before his eyes a viable reality
and a well-defined statement.
The style serves Corinna throughout the book. Actually it
is the sole constant.
Sodot is a most modern novel, built of fragments, sketches
and stories, with constant shifts in the story's angle and
in the narrator's perception. The concise language that reigns
throughout the book enables Corinna to move from the general
to the particular, from the large picture to the marginal
detail, from the objective drama to the subjective hue. Her
success is quite impressive and she succeeds in mastering
this sharp tool throughout the book.
Sodot tells the stories of people in Israel as of late,
of the national events in which they are entangled, of their
personal circumstances that are not always entirely tied up
to time and place, politics or "the situation", although they
are never entirely freed from them. The narrator - who undergoes
no small changes by the time we reach the end of the book
- serves as a prism to all she encounters, people, places,
stories. Corinna knowingly creates distance and yet grants
it clear visibility. She's leading the narrator within the
multifaceted Israeli material, yet looks at it always from
the outside as well. She stands apart from the narrator she
creates and that one keeps herself well apart from each person,
place and situation she does meet with. The book emanates
a dreamy quality that envelops the reader. The restraint,
the irony, the spark that is aware of itself and well hiding,
all these make the reading in Corinna's book an unique and
direct encounter, as befits a worthy literature.
What Readers Have Written About Corinna's
"On Once She Was A Child"
"Your writing is captivating and a pleasure to read."
Marcia Gilespie, Editor-in-Chief, Ms Magazine
"Very engaging and unique."
Andrea MacPherson & Chris Labonte, Editors, Prism International
On Sodot (A Minyan of Lovers)
"I decidedly respect both your writing and the choice of
(such as in 'Intifada'). You have 'a head of your own' in
this uniform reality."
"I think you deserve even better than this review. Moshik
and I read
Sodot aloud to each other and enjoyed it very much. There
is a subtle
irony in your presentation of the story and we really appreciate
Ilana Machover, London
On Pink Pages
"Corinna, You have a fresh and vital talent, the right
style, and an original
way of looking at things. I very much enjoyed your book."
A.B. Yehoshua, novelist
"Corinna has a concise, but sensual language, not elevated,
yet not familiar. People do not write like that here... Out
of the trivia of
a woman' s life, stories unfold where it is difficult to differentiate
the face of the soul and the events of the world."
Hadashot, Literature Section
"For me, these stories, with all the restrained strength
of their clear and
gentle understatement, became a capsule filled with sadness,
optimism. Suddenly it was obvious to me that there is no simple
answer waiting around the corner; rather the opposite: more
Kol Yerushalayim. Arts and Culture Supplement
"Only after finishing the book does the reader begin to
each chapter renders time differently... several cross-sections
some overlapping, like a giant kaleidoscope that alters its
with the viewer and the angle of vision."
"Fragile and ephemeral situations of closeness. .are described
as growing distance that ends in divorce, relations with one's
even random flirtations. The stories progress with sensitivity
to women in
general who are victims in situations where ties with others
and with reality
are tenuous; women who dream and for whom reality is difficult."
Haaretz. Literature Section
"Corinna succeeds in depicting the despair and pain of a woman
undergoes an abortion and tries to make sense of her family
Most interesting are the interactions between a Jewish and
an Arab family
exchanging visits, their hostility in the background. All
the stories reveal
acute perception, psychological depth and accurate descriptions."
Prof. Hanoch Guy, Chair, Hebrew Department, Temple University
On Some Answer
"This book is a literary gem... The work is set in the stunning
the Six-Day War, but it was written before the October 1973
Still in the turbulent realities, the book retains much of
the radiance of
the heroine, Hagit, despite being 'boxed in by life'."
Hebrew Abstracts, The National Association of Professors of
University of Louisville
"Corinna, a new name in Hebrew literature, has so far published
stories, both marked by the refinement of the writing."
Massa Literary Supplement, Davar
"The mystical atmosphere, poetic rhythm. and sentence structure
divisions create a special tension and bring the novella 'Revelation'
Aricha Prize Jury
"It's been a long time since a writen word had moved me
so deeply. I feel
I've met with unique beauty. I would like to know more about
She is indeed a revelation herself. Until now I saw in Agnon's
model of good modern writing. But I think Corinna in Revelation
Kesster Jushka, Haifa
TRANSLATOR'S NOTE / Michal Sapir
As Walter Benjamin puts it in 'The task of the Translator,
"all translation is only a somewhat provisional way of coming
to terms with the foreignness of languages." As such, translation
is very much concerned with the friction of foreignness and
with the possibility of alleviating it through the act of
Much of Corinna's work inhabits borderlines and points of
mediation; her stories are about exiles, immigrants and ambassadors,
who talk with each other through telephones, photographs and
Corinna herself, in a sense, always already writes in translation.
She emigrated in 1947 from Romania to what was, under British
rule, called Palestine, and Hebrew is not her native language.
And so, throughout the book, the project of writing itself
serves Corinna, and her protagonist Anna, as a tool for overcoming
alienation from Self and the Other.
Nevertheless, a profound doubt as to the possibility of mediation
hovers above PINK PAGES. Corinna's borderline habitat often
fills up with frustration and sadness, since the effort to
connect can easily result, on the contrary, in a reinforcement
of the wall.
Reading PINK PAGES again after having lived outside of Israel
for the last seven years, I was struck by the extent to which
the Israeli existence described in it was informed by bereavement
and grief. Time seems to always begin and end in death, starting,
in the Diaspora, with an old world in ruin and continuing,
in Israel, to be punctuated by the relentless periodicity
If the writing of the self is also a diving into the sources
of memory, then Anna, the book's protagonist, who in the course
of PINK PAGES goes back to trace a Jewish past in Europe,
encounters on this path the ultimate Other: the dead. Time
here becomes, as it were, an obstacle in the way of translation;
its passage traces immigration, displacement, forgetfulness,
misunderstanding, loss of touch. It produces silence.
But at the same time I was struck by the courage and affirmation
emanating from these stories. Anna's defiance takes shape
in the act of writing itself, in the sheer audacity of attempting
translation. And if time is depicted in the stories as a falling
into change, discrepancy, and contingency, then it is also
portrayed as producing the very borderline habitat, the very
gap in which translation itself is able to take place. In
the illuminated space opened up by PINK PAGES there is room
enough for brave words to reverberate.
Michal Sapir is a doctoral candidate in Comparative Literature
at New York University.