Books·Canadian

A Wall of Light

This novel by Edeet Ravel was shortlisted for the 2005 Giller Prize.

Edeet Ravel

Sonya lives in Tel Aviv with her protective half-brother, Kostya; their household has dwindled from five to two. Anna, their mother, is now in a nursing home and Noah, Kostya's son, is living in Berlin. Kostya, wracked with guilt for the tragedies that have befallen Sonya, also grapples with the memory of his wife, Iris, a lawyer murdered in the course of a dangerous investigation seventeen years earlier.

As we move through Sonya's day, Noah and Anna narrate their stories as well. Noah's journal entries cover the years 1980-1993, and Anna's letters to Andrei, her married lover in Russia, are written in 1957, after Anna has emigrated to Israel to build a new life for herself and her son, Kostya. While Sonya's story moves rapidly through the events of a single day, Noah and Anna's voices take the reader back in time, filling in the circumstances that have led Sonya to this pivotal moment. 

We learn that Sonya has already endured two catastrophes. At age twelve, a medical mishap leaves her deaf, and at eighteen, while studying at university in Beersheba, Sonya is assaulted by two hoodlums. Throughout the novel, Sonya's experiences, instigated by both human error and human evil, are echoed by the larger, political violence that haunts modern Israel. (From Vintage Canada)

A Wall of Light was a finalist for the 2005 Giller Prize (now known as the Scotiabank Giller Prize).

From the book

But guilt has a way of insinuating itself into the path of any series of events leading to a given outcome. Kostya believes, for example, that had he fixed our broken toilet, I would not have come down with a kidney infection in the first place. The toilet howled and groaned like a ghoul in chains and I was afraid to use it; my solution was to drink less in order to limit my visits to the bathroom. I didn't tell anyone about my aversion; had Kostya known, he would have attended to the problem. And then, had I not been deaf I might have heard the twins before seeing them (this is really stretching it) and escaped in time. These are tenuous links but well entrenched in our family mythology.


From A Wall of Light by Edeet Ravel ©2005. Published by Penguin Canada.