Hidden by Batya Casper

Hidden—

by Batya Casper, is comprised of two novellas, Hidden and Hanover Gardens.

Hidden:

Woven from the fabric of many lives & separate decades, a story of loss, guilt, & hope.

The story opens with an old man falling down the stairs like a bird from the sky, and a stranger in a yellow dress, purple jacket and boots, opening the front door and claiming to be “next of kin.” It is about a young woman who, for 10 years, refuses to come out of her room; a vagrant who roams the streets at night mumbling to herself, tending to broken birds and stray cats; an older woman who sleeps her life away in her living-room chair; a man who nurses a pain in his chest as he struggles to mend the lives of those around him; and a girl who grows up among people who refuse to tell her who she is, who her parents were, what they looked like, or why they didn’t care enough to “stick around and watch me grow.”

Hanover Gardens

Unlike the vagrant they call the “little lost boy,” the sisters huddle underground with the members of their host household as the bombs screech above them and the city of their refuge is blitzed “to hell and back.” The sisters spend their formative years struggling against the gratitude and resentment they feel for the mother and children who have taken them in, and for the other annoying refugees who clutter up the house. All the residents of this home are wrestling with the guilt of their survival, each in his/her own way, with their fears for the parents or children they have left behind, and the prayers they mutter in the dark for their well-being. It is a coming-of-age story of the refugee girls and their British counterparts; all battling their demons, waiting for the war to end, learning to take action, to stand and be counted—while always, always waiting to see who will survive and come to get them.


Israela, a novel by Batya Casper

Are you interested in historical novels? In Israel? In her history, her complex social structure, her relationship with her neighbors? In Israel, the lives of three women interweave with their country; their lives torn apart by war. A 3,000-year-old rift has existed between cousin nations. A mammoth effort, a fight for the good life, is going to have to take place in order for these peoples to live at peace with their differences. What will happen if they won’t fight the good fight? Will they remain, forever, a life-loving people living with war—or will they change?

Ratiba is an Israeli journalist who relinquishes family and friends to marry an Arab and move to his village. For 30 years, she hides her Jewish identity from her husband and children. Her sister, Orit, is an actor who feels betrayed by Ratiba and exacts revenge on her. Elisheva dedicates her life to healing the wounded and the dying of the Second Israeli Intifada. As they mature, these women are forced to make choices they would never have imagined.

A plethora of historical treatises and political works have been written about Israel and the Middle East conflict. It seems to me that they’re written for those who are already familiar with, and invested in, the area. There are also many powerful Israeli novelists whose stories provide us with background to the region’s conflicts; glimpses into Israeli/Arab tensions. The aim of Israela is to describe life in Israel from the inside: to portray its history and the political and social complexities of this country-at-war for people who, despite frequent news coverage, know little or nothing about what Israel or Israelis—Jews and Arabs—are like. Similar, perhaps, to the way so many of us remained ignorant of Ireland’s centuries-old war between Catholics and Protestants.

What physical and ethical struggles do these people combat on a daily, often hourly, basis because of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? What is it like for people anywhere to live with unsolvable conflicts? To sacrifice one’s children to a never-ending drama?