What to Do about the Solomons is about a family of Israelis. They are people who have come from somewhere and are going somewhere and are never still. We learn about the patriarch, Yakov, born on a kibbutz to Bulgarian Jews, brought up with the strong communist beliefs of the kibbutzim. His future wife, Vivienne, is one of the wave of North African Jews who come after World War Two, who is beautiful and proud and refuses to bend to the ways of the kibbutz women.
Yakov is a charismatic, powerful man who makes money for the kibbutz, and, as they liberalise, for himself. His children move away from their upbringing and work all over the world, and each, in their own way, challenges Yakov’s worldview and his ability to control their future.
What to Do about the Solomons has multiple points of view and shifting chronology. Sometimes it starts a scene, leaves it, and then comes back several pages later. There is no clear narrative arc or overarching theme. Lots of stuff happens to lots of people is about as structured as it gets.
This kind of thing normally bugs me. If the author hasn’t worked out the structure, then I feel they don’t really know what they’re trying to say. However, I reserve the right to contradict myself and in this book, I think it works. It is like eavesdropping on the stories people tell at family parties, talking over and contradicting one another, fuzzy on the chronology or even the protagonists, but each insisting that their version captures the essential truth.
What to Do about the Solomons offers an interesting perspective on Israeli life, and on the changing culture as experienced by three generations of one family. It is irreverent, pacy and very sharp.
I received a copy of What to Do about the Solomons from the publisher via Netgalley.
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