In this exciting and overtly political novel, Grjasnowa perfectly captures the mood of a younger generation who cannot escape the trauma of their past.
Originally from Azerbaijan and haunted by her childhood experiences of the civil war there, Mascha is now studying in Germany to become an interpreter. She lives with her partner, but he dies and Mascha leaves her adopted country for a job in Israel. The atmosphere is oppressive from the outset. Many Israelis are hostile to Mascha because she speaks Arabic but not Hebrew. She has some contact with distant Russian relatives there, but they are barricaded into illegal settlements because they had no idea of the politics when they first arrived. Although she had seen Israel as a way out, Mascha now feels increasingly pressurised by her personal and political situation. Asked to join a group of activists as an interpreter on a trip into the West Bank, Mascha is brought face to face once again with her traumatic childhood memories.
Despite the real sadness and hopelessness of the novel, Grjasnowa has managed to infuse it with sympathy and a subtle humour. This is a deeply affecting work that is guaranteed to gain an international readership.