Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Tel Aviv Dossier: Something new and unusual

Posted by Simcha 6:40 PM, under | 2 comments

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up The Tel Aviv Dosseier, by Nir Yaniv and Lavie Tidhar. Apocalypse novels are not usually my thing but a story about the destruction of Tel Aviv involving a fireman, a yeshiva guy and a film maker sounded intriguing enough that I decided to give this book a try.


The Tel Aviv Dossier opens up as Hagar, a documentary film maker, is in the process of filming the arrival of the Darfur refugees from across the Egyptian border. As she attempts to adjust the lightening on the camera, to accommodate the suddenly darkened sky, the earth begins to shake and a column of air appears, into which everyone and everything gets sucked into and torn apart. People run screaming, cars are thrown around and Hagar keeps her camera rolling as she attempts to escape from the sudden destruction that has taken over Tel Aviv.


The next chapter is narrated by Eli the psychotic fireman who has been waiting for just such an event to take place. In delight at the chaos and destruction, he grabs a fire truck and jumps into the foray, taking pleasure in adding to the madness and running down anyone that get in his way.


Each of the following chapters continue to describe the carnage taking place in Tel Aviv, through a different person’s eyes; a young boy left at home alone, a young woman at the beach writing to a friend, a Lubavitcher yeshiva student, a member of the UFO Research Society. Each chapter is narrated in the first person and many of the narrations are broken off, to be picked up later in the book, or sometimes not at all (usually due to a bloody demise).


The second part of the book focuses on three particular characters and their individual reactions to the current apocalypse. These characters include the fireman, the yeshiva student and the documentary film-maker, along with an animated severed head, which adds a dash of the absurd to the already strange story.


The third part of the book takes place a year after the apocalypse began and introduces a new cast of characters who arrive in Tel Aviv, from Jerusalem, each with an individual purpose. But these recent arrivals are not prepared for the anarchy and lawlessness of this new Tel Aviv and they find themselves floundering to survive, as the residents of Tel Aviv gear up for the final battle and the possible arrival of some sort of messiah.


If you are looking for something different and unusual, this book is it. While dark and weird it also manages to be humorous, which I found to be an interesting and disconcerting combination.


I did find that the chapters in the first part of the book, describing the apocalypse sounded rather repetitive after a while. Even though each of the people narrating these chapters were vastly different, their voices and tone came out sounding rather similar, which I was a little disappointed with. I would also have liked to see little more variety in the reactions that were expressed. If the yeshiva guy was going to tear off his clothes and go running in the street, perhaps the guy emailing a letter to his friend, full of crude language, could have suddenly become religious.


I read The Tel Aviv Dossier while on a bus to Tel Aviv and I arrived at the bus station just as I was reading about its detailed destruction in the pages of this book, which I thought added a little extra spice to the reading experience. But whether you are in Tel Aviv, or not, if you are in the mood for something different and unique, give The Tel Aviv Dossier a try.

2 comments:

what an interesting book! I have never heard about it until now. I think I'm going to check this one out. Thanks for the info and great review.

The Tel Aviv Dossier certainly was interesting and not many people have heard of it. Even in Tel Aviv.

The publisher seems to have sold out of it. The copy they sent me to review was their last one! But I expect they will be printing more soon. If you are interested, you can read the first two chapers of the book here: http://chizine.com/chizinepub/books/tel-aviv-dossier.php

And if you do read the book, I would be interested in hearing your opinion of it.

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