Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Writing from within the reality

It took the young American Jewish writer Todd Hasak-Lowy an entire summer to read Yaakov Shabtai's "Zichron Dvarim" (lit. "memory of things"). He read the book in Hebrew a few years ago. He was drawn into Shabtai's world, was fascinated by his long, precise sentences and felt that Shabtai was taking the words from his own consciousness, transferring his inner voice to the page. Just after finishing the book, Hasak-Lowy wrote his first short story, "How Keith's Dad Died," an attempt of sorts to import Shabtai's prose into English.

Now Hasak-Lowy's first book, the excellent short-story collection "The Task of This Translator" is being published in Hebrew. He wrote the stories in English from 1996 to 2002 and is now helping translator Yitzhar Vardi render them into Hebrew. There is something very strong in his writing: long, clever, precise sentences that offer a sharp look at the world and its people - and quite a few original ideas.

Hazak-Lowy was born in Michigan in 1969 to a Jewish family. He was a member of the Habonim-Dror Zionist youth movement, and after high school lived for a year on Kibbutz Urim in the Negev. As part of his bachelor's degree studies in history and the Middle East at the University of Michigan he studied at Tel Aviv University for one semester. It was there he decided to research Israeli society.

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