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All the Rivers
Cover of All the Rivers
All the Rivers
A Novel
Borrow Borrow
A controversial, award-winning story about the passionate but untenable affair between an Israeli woman and a Palestinian man, from one of Israel’s most acclaimed novelists
When Liat meets Hilmi on a blustery autumn afternoon in Greenwich Village, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Charismatic and handsome, Hilmi is a talented young artist from Palestine. Liat, an aspiring translation student, plans to return to Israel the following summer. Despite knowing that their love can be only temporary, that it can exist only away from their conflicted homeland, Liat lets herself be enraptured by Hilmi: by his lively imagination, by his beautiful hands and wise eyes, by his sweetness and devotion.
Together they explore the city, sharing laughs and fantasies and pangs of homesickness. But the unfettered joy they awaken in each other cannot overcome the guilt Liat feels for hiding him from her family in Israel and her Jewish friends in New York. As her departure date looms and her love for Hilmi deepens, Liat must decide whether she is willing to risk alienating her family, her community, and her sense of self for the love of one man.
Banned from classrooms by Israel’s Ministry of Education, Dorit Rabinyan’s remarkable novel contains multitudes. A bold portrayal of the strains—and delights—of a forbidden relationship, All the Rivers (published in Israel as Borderlife) is a love story and a war story, a New York story and a Middle East story, an unflinching foray into the forces that bind us and divide us. “The land is the same land,” Hilmi reminds Liat. “In the end all the rivers flow into the same sea.”
Praise for All the Rivers
“Rabinyan’s book is a sort of Romeo and Juliet, a forbidden love affair between a Jewish girl from Tel Aviv and a Palestinian boy from Hebron. . . . [A] beautiful novel.”The Guardian 
“A fine, subtle, and disturbing study of the ways in which public events encroach upon the private lives of those who attempt to live and love in peace with each other, and, impossibly, with a riven and irreconcilable world.”—John Banville, Man Booker Prize–winning author of The Sea
“I’m with Dorit Rabinyan. Love, not hate, will save us. Hatred sows hatred, but love can break down barriers.”—Svetlana Alexievich, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature
“Astonishing . . . [a] precise and elegant love story, drawn with the finest of lines.”—Amos Oz
“Rabinyan’s writing reflects the honesty and modesty of a true artisan.”Haaretz
“Because the novel strikes the right balance between the personal and the political, and because of her ability to tell a suspenseful and satisfying story, we decided to award Dorit Rabinyan’s [All the Rivers] the 2015 Bernstein Prize.”—From the 2015 Bernstein Prize judges’ decision
“[All the Rivers] ought to be read like J. M. Coetzee or Toni Morrison—from a distance in order to get close.”Walla!
“Beautiful and sensitive . . . a human tale of rapprochement and separation . . . a noteworthy human and literary achievement.”Makor Rishon 
“A captivating (and heartbreaking) gem, written in a spectacular style, with a rich, flowing, colorful and addictive language.”Motke
“A great novel of love and peace.”—La Stampa
“A novel that truly...
A controversial, award-winning story about the passionate but untenable affair between an Israeli woman and a Palestinian man, from one of Israel’s most acclaimed novelists
When Liat meets Hilmi on a blustery autumn afternoon in Greenwich Village, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Charismatic and handsome, Hilmi is a talented young artist from Palestine. Liat, an aspiring translation student, plans to return to Israel the following summer. Despite knowing that their love can be only temporary, that it can exist only away from their conflicted homeland, Liat lets herself be enraptured by Hilmi: by his lively imagination, by his beautiful hands and wise eyes, by his sweetness and devotion.
Together they explore the city, sharing laughs and fantasies and pangs of homesickness. But the unfettered joy they awaken in each other cannot overcome the guilt Liat feels for hiding him from her family in Israel and her Jewish friends in New York. As her departure date looms and her love for Hilmi deepens, Liat must decide whether she is willing to risk alienating her family, her community, and her sense of self for the love of one man.
Banned from classrooms by Israel’s Ministry of Education, Dorit Rabinyan’s remarkable novel contains multitudes. A bold portrayal of the strains—and delights—of a forbidden relationship, All the Rivers (published in Israel as Borderlife) is a love story and a war story, a New York story and a Middle East story, an unflinching foray into the forces that bind us and divide us. “The land is the same land,” Hilmi reminds Liat. “In the end all the rivers flow into the same sea.”
Praise for All the Rivers
“Rabinyan’s book is a sort of Romeo and Juliet, a forbidden love affair between a Jewish girl from Tel Aviv and a Palestinian boy from Hebron. . . . [A] beautiful novel.”The Guardian 
“A fine, subtle, and disturbing study of the ways in which public events encroach upon the private lives of those who attempt to live and love in peace with each other, and, impossibly, with a riven and irreconcilable world.”—John Banville, Man Booker Prize–winning author of The Sea
“I’m with Dorit Rabinyan. Love, not hate, will save us. Hatred sows hatred, but love can break down barriers.”—Svetlana Alexievich, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature
“Astonishing . . . [a] precise and elegant love story, drawn with the finest of lines.”—Amos Oz
“Rabinyan’s writing reflects the honesty and modesty of a true artisan.”Haaretz
“Because the novel strikes the right balance between the personal and the political, and because of her ability to tell a suspenseful and satisfying story, we decided to award Dorit Rabinyan’s [All the Rivers] the 2015 Bernstein Prize.”—From the 2015 Bernstein Prize judges’ decision
“[All the Rivers] ought to be read like J. M. Coetzee or Toni Morrison—from a distance in order to get close.”Walla!
“Beautiful and sensitive . . . a human tale of rapprochement and separation . . . a noteworthy human and literary achievement.”Makor Rishon 
“A captivating (and heartbreaking) gem, written in a spectacular style, with a rich, flowing, colorful and addictive language.”Motke
“A great novel of love and peace.”—La Stampa
“A novel that truly...
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Excerpts-
  • From the book Part One
    Autumn
    Chapter 1

    Someone was at the door. I was vacuuming, with Nirvana on the stereo at full volume, and the polite doorbell chirps had failed to break through, rousing me only when they lost their patience and became long and aggressive. It was mid—November, early on a Saturday afternoon. I'd managed to get a few things done in the morning and was now busy cleaning. I vacuumed the couches and the hardwood floor, my ears bursting with the hollow roar of air and the reverberating music, a monotonous screen of white noise that somehow imbued me with calm. I was free of thoughts as I wielded the suction hose to root out dust and cat fur, entirely focused on the reds and blues of the rug. I snapped out of it when the vacuum's sigh subsided just as the song was whispering its last sounds. In the three— or four—second gap before the next track, I heard the sharp, insistent doorbell chime. Like a deaf person who suddenly regains her hearing, I had trouble finding language.

    "Rak . . ." I stuttered in Hebrew at the door. "Rak rega . . ." Then I corrected myself as I glanced suspiciously at the clock: "Just a minute."

    It was one—thirty in the afternoon, but the bleak grayness outside made evening seem near. Through the steamed—up windows looking out from the twelfth floor to the corner of Ninth Street and University Place, I could dimly make out the respectable buildings of Fifth Avenue and a strip of low sky that gleamed like steel, squeezed in above the smoking chimneys.

    The bell rang again but stopped a moment after I turned off the music. "One minute please . . ." I quickly scanned my reflection in the hallway mirror—-lopsided ponytail, dusty T—shirt and sweatpants, gym shoes—-and flung open the door.

    Two men in their forties wearing business suits and dark ties stood outside. The one on the right held a document case under his arm and was a head taller than the one on the left, who stood facing me like a cowboy about to draw, or as though he were holding an invisible suitcase in each hand. The impatience conveyed by the right one's bony fingers tapping on his black leather case, and the relief on the cowboy's fleshy face, testified to the long minutes they had been waiting at the door.

    "Hello," I said, so surprised I was almost voiceless.

    "Hello, ma'am. We're very sorry to disturb you. My name is Agent Rogers, and this is my colleague Agent Nelson. We're from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. May we come in for a few moments to ask you some questions?"

    It was the one on the left talking, the gunslinger. His suit looked two sizes too small for his dense, solid body, and he spoke with a smooth inflection that stretched out the words and elongated the ends of syllables as if he were chewing on his tongue. I was frozen, unable to take in the names and titles, nor did I understand the meaning of what he had said until his tall partner, with demonstrative impatience and an unreadably steely expression, reached into his inner coat pocket and pulled out something I had only ever seen in movies and TV series: a gilded, embossed police badge.

    I must have murmured something—-surprised, somewhat contrite—-and blinked, and in light of my stunned deaf—mute response they assumed I had trouble speaking English. The tall one looked over my head, surveying the apartment, and my momentary suspicion that they thought I was the cleaner was reinforced when the bully continued, louder this time:

    "Just a few questions, please. We'd like...
About the Author-
  • Dorit Rabinyan is the bestselling author of the acclaimed Persian Brides and Strand of a Thousand Pearls. She is the recipient of the Itzhak Vinner Prize, the Prime Minister's Prize, an ACUM award, and the Jewish Quarterly–Wingate Prize. All the Rivers, originally published as Borderlife, was named as a book of the year by Ha'aretz and awarded the prestigious Bernstein Prize. In January 2016 it became the center of a political scandal in Israel when the Ministry of Education banned the book from high school's curriculum. All the Rivers has been translated into seventeen languages.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    February 27, 2017
    Bernstein Prize winner Rabinyan’s modern take on forbidden love between young dreamers on opposite sides of a bitter cultural conflict enthralls and delights. Liat, an Israeli Fulbright scholar studying in New York City, has a chance meeting one afternoon with the affable Hilmi, a Palestinian painter on an artist’s visa that explodes into an intense love affair. A relationship unthinkable at home flourishes in post 9/11 New York. Liat is poetic and emotive, her intense infatuation for Hilmi sustaining Rabinyan’s florid prose—the feel of Hilmi’s dark curls against her face, her strong reactions to his intense, beautiful paintings—making the electricity between the two lovers palpable. Although their relationship is full of passion, Liat believes their romantic fling cannot last and will end when she returns to Israel. But instead their intimacy grows into love, complicating the once-tenuous affair. It is a realistic relationship that sparks with vitality and vitriol, jumping through blissful rendezvous, heated arguments, and shameful secrets that build upon each other. While their political, cultural, and religious differences should be of little importance in multicultural New York City, there remains an obscure, impenetrable wall between them. Rabinyan beautifully loops the story from season to season, depicting Liat and Hilmi’s lives and love vividly and memorably.

  • Library Journal

    October 1, 2016

    Multi-award-winning Israeli author Rabinyan won the Bernstein prize for this book, which features the love affair between a young Israeli translator studying in New York for six months and a sweet Palestinian man she meets. But Israel's Ministry of Education demurred when a group of teachers asked that it be included in the Hebrew high school literature curriculum. The resulting furor fueled sales in Israel and abroad, where more than a dozen countries have bought rights.

    Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Library Journal

    November 1, 2017

    This beautifully written and complex novel about a love affair between an Israeli woman and a Palestinian man who meet in New York City in 2003 won the Bernstein Prize, but Israel's Education Ministry attempted to ban the book, fearful that it would encourage intermarriage. In what later became a best seller, Rabinyan shows how two young people find happiness despite holding vastly different political and religious beliefs.

    SEE ALSO: Rabinyan's Strand of a Thousand Pearls (2002), Persian Brides (1998)

    Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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A Novel
Dorit Rabinyan
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