What do cosmetic shoulder blade surgery, flak jackets made of spider silk, high-end shopping sprees as a stage of grief, and The Twilight Zone‘s Rod Serling have in common? Nothing, perhaps, but their convergence in Textile, a newly translated novel by celebrated Israeli writer Orly Castel-Bloom.
Published in Hebrew in 2006, Textile features the quintessentially 21st-century coping mechanisms of the Grubers, a wealthy, anxiety-ridden family falling apart in a new, glitzy suburb of Tel Aviv. Amanda, the matriarch, runs the family kosher pajama factory and shields herself from her son’s life as an army sniper by having countless plastic surgeries; Irad, her husband, is a scientific genius obsessed with his own virility. And their 22-year-old daughter Lirit masquerades as a kibbutznik, but would rather be shopping.
With her son on a sniper mission, Amanda undergoes shoulder blade enhancement surgery (which, don’t worry, doesn’t really exist). Meanwhile, an Israeli expatriate in Ithaca, NY invites Irad to learn top-secret scientific findings in the field they share. In lieu of a redemptive ending, Castel-Bloom maintains this sharp portrait of one family’s self-made isolation structuring their ways of love and grief.
November 7, 2013