I’ve already talked about how I set out to write Lev and Sima’s marriage: forty-six years together, and for all their intimacy a loneliness between them.
And then into that marriage that classic novelistic device: A stranger comes to town.
A stranger with perfect breasts.
Who happens to be Israeli.
Readers often express surprise that I chose to write from the perspective of Sima, a much older woman. That wasn’t a difficult choice: I was sick of reading fiction written by twenty-somethings about twenty-somethings (I happened to be in an MFA program at the time), and Sima’s voice felt very natural to me.
Writing an Israeli woman, however, felt like a leap. And of all the many things I beat myself up on when I first started writing Sima, Timna herself may have topped the list.
Given the political situation in the Middle East, I often wondered whether what I was doing was, well, kosher. I mean: the character is Israeli—just out of the army, and waiting for her own boyfriend to finish his military service—and yet the setting is entirely divorced from any kind of political reality.
And yet, the more I wrote Timna, the less I worried.
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