The Hilltop by Assaf Gavron was one of those books I was saving for the right moment. I wanted to love it and savor it; read it at a leisurely pace and take it all in. Gavron is a highly acclaimed Israeli writer, he’s won tons of prizes and I truly believed that this was going to be the book to bring Israeli literature to the fore in North America.
The Hilltop is about a new settlement in Palestinian territory and the struggles it has. At times the story reads as a Middle Eastern Catch-22. The government refuses to acknowledge the settlement’s existence, and yet the army is forced to defend it. The bureaucratic nightmares, snafus and confusion that the settlers have to endure is insane.
For all the insight The Hilltop gave me into this fractured life, overall I found the story boring. I don’t know if it was a translation issue, but I just couldn’t get into the writing. I also felt that the first half of the book did not hang well with the second half. They were just so different.
Who would like this book? In spite of my lack of love for The Hilltop, I do believe that it is a must-read for those interested in Israeli literature. I think we need to pay greater attention to this part of the world and reading its literature is one way of gaining greater understanding of the geo-political situation there. And i did learn so much about Israeli settlements in general and the day-to-day life on the West Bank.