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Doron Rabinovici was born in Tel Aviv and moved to Vienna at the age of three. What he writes has always been shaped by the tension between his life in Austria and his vital interest in Israel.
His stories take place in both countries. The differences constitute the identity of the contemporary Jewish characters in the novels, be they from Tel Aviv or Vienna. On the one hand there are Felix and Dina Rosen, Ethan Rosen’s parents, and on the other hand there is Ethan together with his scholarly opponent Rudi Klausinger. Both are luminaries in the same area of research. This alone would be disastrous enough, even if one can only begin to imagine the scheming terrain on which such antics take place. Rosen and Klausinger are fundamentally different. The former feels at home everywhere but is never really so, while the latter is more or less the little darling of his surroundings. Klausinger, who is in search of his father, comes across Ethan in the course of his ancestry research. This is the beginning of a story, which could not be more contrived, yet every line conveys the impression that this story could take place today, exactly as it is. Rabinovici provides a literary form for the Jewish search for a father, which focuses on the question of “what history actually is”. He gives “a vivid depiction of that which is otherwise treated only from a dogmatic point of view”.
The story is told in a most interesting way and finally culminates in a rabbi, to be precise a Jewish mullah, pursuing at full speed his plan to create the Messiah in a test tube. Thus ultimately Rabinovici conveys the (albeit unfulfilled) salvation history of a fanatic in a contemporary setting. But not only in this is he an artist in the exaggeration of Jewish humor. His talent for observation is fascinating. He has a convincing ability to process things seen and things that have happened and turn them into literature. Content and language mesh together naturally and easily, for instance, when a man smells “of a combination of perfume and sperm”. Rabinovici creates poetic strength in his sentences through extraordinary precision: “He looked on as everything he had ever been was eliminated.”
An altogether splendid book, with a few more special and thoroughly agreeable components: for instance, in his text Doron Rabinovici does not translate expressions, which originally come from Hebrew or Yiddish, which more or less means that this author, with all his humor, takes his reader seriously.
Abbreviated review by Janko Ferk, October 2010.
English translation by Hillary Keel.
Complete version in German: http://www.literaturhaus.at/index.php?id=7096
[ book info ] Rabinovici, Doron: Andernorts.
(Book language: Deutsch)
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