“Life Laughed at Me” by David Grossman

In an interview with an Italian magazine, David Grossman said: “For years, I wanted to write a collection of true love stories – and nobody loved it. Her first husband committed suicide while he was a prisoner in the secret service Tito, on October 16, 1951. Every year, in October 16, I was calling her and telling her: I remembered today is Ryde, your husband’s birthday. She was crying as if she had just died. She was haunted by this question: Why did you do that, why isn’t she strong enough to survive the torture, how was she? This woman talked about Very tenderly – firm in ideology, but tender in love. ”

David Grossman is one of the most important contemporary Israeli authors. He was born in 1954. He studied philosophy and theater at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and after completing his compulsory military service, he worked for the Voice of Israel Radio. He has published several fiction books, as well as several volumes of reports and interviews. Several of his novels have won Israeli or international awards. Many of them have been translated and published in Romanian by the same Polirom publishing house.

The book we quote today recounts the story Grossman told in that interview – the story of a special and unique woman. And more love stories intertwined in time, with pains passed from one generation to another, with rare adoration.

The editors write: “In the fall of 1951, Vera, a Jew and anti-espionage activist in the National Liberation Army of Yugoslavia, was arrested. Her husband, Milos, an officer in Marshal Tito’s cavalry, had just hanged himself. In deep love, Vera defends Her husband and stubbornly refuse to sign the act according to which he was declared an enemy of the people and a Soviet spy for Stalin. Therefore, she will be thrown into the camp and tortured, forced to leave her young daughter Nina to her fate. A deep wound will separate them. Once they are reunited, will they be able to reconcile with the past, or will she move on? The curse from generation to generation? Decades later, Gili, daughter of Nina and niece of Vera, armed with a video camera, remakes the family saga.”

David Grossman’s writing is flawlessly clear. This is an excerpt: “Raphael was fifteen years old when his mother died and freed him from her suffering. It was raining on the kibbutz. When they crowded under the shade in the little cemetery, Tuvia, Raphael’s father, was crying. He had taken care of his wife for years, and now he seems to be lost. and an orphan. Raphael stood in his shorts next to the others, his head and eyes covered with a hood, so as not to appear that he was not crying. “Now that she’s dead, perhaps you can see all I thought of her,” she said to herself.

This happened in the winter of 1962. A year later, his father met Vera Novak, who came to Israel from Yugoslavia, and the two began to live together as husband and wife. Vera came there with her only daughter, Nina, a girl of seventeen, tall and blond, with a long, pale face, very beautiful, with almost no expression.

Raphael’s classmates called Nina the Sphinx. They slid behind her and simulated her gait, embraced her body with both arms and stared softly, eyes wide. Once, she came across and grabbed two boys who were imitating her. Such fists have not yet been mentioned on the kibbutz. It was hard to believe how much strength and brutality she had in her thin arms and legs. Rumors started to spread. It is said that when her mother was politically imprisoned in the Gulag, Nina, then a child, remained on the street. It was called “on the street”, and a purposeful look was added to the words. He was said to have clung to a gang of savage children in Belgrade who were kidnapping other children for ransom. This is how it was. People are talking.”

David Grossman – You’ve always laughed at me my life. Hebrew translation of Georgi Miletitano. Polyrum Publishing House. 295 p.

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