Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Best Bulgarian Short Stories

If you do a search on Google for "Bulgarian short stories" one of the first results you will see is a news item from October stating that Bulgarian author Miroslav Penkov won the BBC International Short Story Award. Penkov's story, "East of the West," from his 2011 debut short story collection of the same name, "explores the difficulties of love, relationships and identity in a region ridden with conflict," according to the contest's organizers.

"East of the West" is the story of a village, divided by a river and by the harsh realities of the Cold War. To the east is Bulgaria, home of a boy known as Nose, and to the west is the home of his cousin, a more liberal land where one can buy blue jeans and Adidas sports shoes. Every five years the authorities allow the villagers to reunite for a feast, where the cousins can dream and plan for freedom and a different future.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Where Is Israel Going?

The other day I read a comment posted in response to Alan Elsner's article "Israel’s diplomatic problem in one word: Settlements" that stated simply: “There should never be a two-state solution.” The poster didn’t offer any additional clues that would explain her position.

What is the alternative to a two-state solution? I assume that no one is suggesting a three-state solution to resolve our problems (Israel, Palestine, Gaza), so I will make the logical conclusion that this person either favors a one-state solution or a continuation of the status quo.

Supporters of a one-state solution have over 3 million Palestinians to answer for. Arab Muslim residents of Taibe today have the right to vote and to form political parties. In an expanded State of Israel permanently encompassing the entire West Bank, wouldn’t these basic rights be extended to all Palestinians?

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Mistaken, a Book Review

A decent, hard-working man turns to the bottle and seeks violent vengeance in the aftermath of two tragic accidents. "Somewhere down deep inside me lurked a monster, an abomination, a bitter man so broken and lost that vengeance seemed the best course, the only road left to follow."

This was a thought running through the mind of Tyler Karras, the hero of The Mistaken, the fiction debut of Nancy S. Thompson. Tyler is living the American dream in San Francisco, when his brother joins ranks with the local Russian mafia. Tyler tries to intervene on his brother's behalf, but instead only becomes himself a target for their wrath.

Tyler's wife, pregnant with their first child, falls victim to a credit card scam and when she goes to confront the woman who perpetrated the crime, she is killed in a traffic accident. Wallowing in grief and ravished by excessive alcohol consumption, Tyler strikes a deal to deliver the woman con artist to the mafia in exchange for his brother's freedom.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Why I'm Voting Meretz

There have been a number of heated political discussions around my family's dinner table in the last few days. "What do you think of Yair Lapid?" my children asked. "What about Tzipi Livni?" they questioned. "Surely, a vote for Labor will strengthen that party and give us a real chance of changing the government," they argued. "No, your father is voting for Meretz," my wife said. "Why?" they asked. Why indeed.

I looked at my children, and at my granddaughters, who are too young and innocent to care about politics.  I was suddenly filled with a sense of failure. My generation had failed to deliver peace. I had raised my children in a country constantly threatened by cycles of meaningless violence, Suicide bombings, rocket attacks, wars. Whatever happened to the hope we had for the future?