Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Review: An eternity of unrequited love


Gail Hareven's The Confessions of Noa Weber is this year's winner of the Best Translated Book Award for Fiction. Originally written in Hebrew, this is Hareven's first novel translated into English, and it also won Israel's Sapir Prize for Literature. So basically what I'm trying to say is, this book has been given a lot of credit in the world of world literature.

The story itself is simple. On the surface, Noa Weber is the epitome of a successful, feminist woman. She's the author of a series of crime thrillers led by a strong, independent woman; she has a daughter whom she raised alone. But what Noa is hiding beneath the surface is that she's completely and hopelessly in love with Alek, a man she met when she was seventeen, the man who fathered her child, the man she will never get over.

The Confessions of Noa Weber serves mainly as a confession to Noa herself instead of one to anybody else. She is picking apart her life, analyzing her emotions, and trying to come to terms with her life and Alek. Noa is so self-deprecatingly honest that, though you want to shake her to snap out of it, you can't help but be intrigued by what she's saying. I know unrequited love is a common theme in literature, but this was the first I've encountered of this kind—the kind where the afflicted just accepts this burden rather than anguish about letting it go. It was somewhat fascinating, somewhat cringe-inducing.

Though I found the ideas interesting, I did yawn through a lot of the book. Noa is like that friend that just won't shut up about her boy problems and uses you as a backboard to pitch her theories on relationships. The first time around, she has fresh ideas and makes some good points, but once you've heard it for months and there's nothing new to say, you want to tell her to shut up and get over it. But, it does have compelling ideas and (what I think is) a unique perspective on a common situation. Noa Weber is an extreme case, but I think most people will find something relatable about her.

"With more than twenty-nine years behind us, I am entitled to believe that I am, indeed, special to him. That my perseverance has borne fruit, and there is a place reserved exclusively for me in his heart."

That's all we really want, isn't it?


softdrink said...

Hmm, I'd seen this mentioned somewhere and thought it sounded interesting, but now I don't think I could bear to read that much introspection. Especially of the cringe-inducing kind.

Kari said...

Yeah, if I had written my review BEFORE my book club, I wouldn't have reviewed it as well. But after discussion, I got a lot more out of it. It's one of those kinds of books.

Unapologetically Mundane said...

An Eternity of Unrequited Love is such a great name for a novel! I hope you write that one yourself.

Kari said...

Hmm I will keep that in mind should I ever write the novel I wish I could write. Gotta have the inspiration first....haha!