The Israeli writer Assaf Gavron straddles the deathly funny and deathly serious. In his novel Almost Dead, a man survives multiple suicide-bomb attacks and inadvertently becomes a national hero. His clever and subversive work, Eating Standing Up, focuses on an even more volatile target: falafel stands.
For 2 years, 1995-1997, Gavron reviewed a different falafel stand or restaurant each week. Far from simple analyses of the balls’ crispiness and pitas‘ fluffiness, Gavron includes cultural history, philosophy, even politics. Companions accompanied him, including his evolving crush, “The Most Beautiful Girl in Jerusalem.” But the column’s lifeblood never strayed from falafel. In one, he bemoans the tragedy of self-service: “[F]at, clumsy boys filling up their pitas to the verge of explosion with all the salads and with numerous falafel balls…middle-aged cheats refilling their pita; girls getting entangled with the tongs.”
Sadly, Eating is only in Hebrew—although this trailer embodies the book’s zany soul. Stay tuned for the other tricks Gavron has up his sleeve: The Hilltop, a candid, controversial novel about West Bank settlers, is due out in English next summer.