Dr. Eitan Green has a perfect life: a talented, ambitious young neurosurgeon, he is married to the beautiful Liat, with whom he has two healthy children. They live in a shiny new house in a suburb of Beersheva. One evening, returning home late in his SUV, he knocks down an African migrant worker on a deserted road. Realising that the man is so badly injured that he will not live, he flees the scene.
Ayelet Gundar-Goshen’s second novel is extraordinarily assured. Its themes are daring: when Eitan runs the man over in the dark, it is because he literally does not see him. As the consequences of the man’s death unfold, the willed invisibility of his fellow migrants in the Israeli mind becomes central to the novel. The influx of African migrant workers into Israel is one (of several) demographics that is testing Israel’s democratic soul, just as this man’s death tests that of Eitan. “He was Eritrean. Or Sudanese. Or God knows what.” When the man’s widow, Sirkit, turns up at his house with the wallet that Eitan had dropped at the scene, and proceeds to blackmail him into setting up a makeshift hospital in an abandoned garage to serve the refugees, whose twilight legal status prevents them from being able to get medical care, Eitan realises that he has little choice but to agree, or to risk his whole life collapsing. His wife Liat is the police officer investigating the man’s death…
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By Ayelet Gundar-Goshen, translated by Sondra Silverstein