The Canadian Jewish News has a good story about Shani Boianjiu, the new literary phenom whose recent novel, The People of Forever Are Not Afraid (Random House), tracks several young women throughout and in the aftermath of their service in the Israeli Defense Forces. Boianjiu, 25, has already been published in the New Yorker and received the U.S. National Book Foundation’s Top 5 Under 35 Award in 2011. Her book has garnered plenty of critical attention, mostly positive, and has apparently already managed to offend both pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian readers – always a good sign, as the author herself acknowledges in the interview.
Boianjiu is now facing the interesting challenge of creating, in collaboration with a translator, a Hebrew translation for her book, originally written in English:
Some of the charm in the book is the way the English words are used, she said. “You have to find different ways to convey the same type of playfulness.” She said she’s a bit nervous for the Hebrew translation’s release, mostly because she is embarrassed to have her family and friends read it.
I’m also intrigued by the critiques leveled against her for the portrayal of men in her story, described as “almost incidental characters, just there for the women’s pleasure, and many of them die early and violently.” I can see how that might be offensive, since I can’t think of a single literary or artistic work where the women are the incidental providers of male pleasure, conveniently disposed of through early, gory deaths – can you?