Magazine article World Literature Today

Zion's Fiction: A Treasury of Israeli Speculative Literature

Magazine article World Literature Today

Zion's Fiction: A Treasury of Israeli Speculative Literature

Article excerpt

Zion's Fiction: A Treasury of Israeli Speculative Literature Ed. Sheldon Teitelbaum & Emanuel Lottem. Simsbury, Connecticut. Mandel Vilar Press. 2018. 320 pages.

Zion's Fiction is a project many years in the making, but it was worth the wait. In this collection, readers will find a wealth of speculative fiction from Israel that has sprung from a still-young genre scene in a nation that just turned seventy. For modern Israel is, as the introduction reminds us, an "imagiNation," born out of the Bible and the ideas of late-nineteenth-century thinker and author Theodor Herzl. Herzl's utopian novel Old New Land (Altneuland, 1902) was the first step in making Israel, once again, a homeland for the Jewish people.

Yet the political and religious strife that has marked Israel's first several decades led its literary gatekeepers to shun speculative fiction, viewing it as a genre that "distracted" readers from the work of defining the nation's values and goals. Nonetheless, science fiction, fantasy, magical realism, and other subgenres flourished, especially since the 1970s, resulting in this remarkably varied and engaging collection.

Here we have stories originally written in English as well as in Hebrew and Russian (and expertly brought into English by a variety of translators) by authors both well known and unknown in the US. These authors imagine apocalyptic wastelands, teleportation via dreams, hyperintelligent mice, a timeless library, and more. …

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