All the Rivers by Dorit Rabinyan
Jessica Cohen, translator
When Liat meets Hilmi on a blustery autumn afternoon in Greenwich Village, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Charismatic and handsome, Hilmi is a talented young artist from Palestine. Liat, an aspiring translation student, plans to return to Israel the following summer. Despite knowing that their love can be only temporary, that it can exist only away from their conflicted homeland, Liat lets herself be enraptured by Hilmi: by his lively imagination, by his beautiful hands and wise eyes, by his sweetness and devotion.
Together they explore the city, sharing laughs and fantasies and pangs of homesickness. But the unfettered joy they awaken in each other cannot overcome the guilt Liat feels for hiding him from her family in Israel and her Jewish friends in New York. As her departure date looms and her love for Hilmi deepens, Liat must decide whether she is willing to risk alienating her family, her community, and her sense of self for the love of one man.
Banned from classrooms by Israel’s Ministry of Education, Dorit Rabinyan’s remarkable novel contains multitudes. A bold portrayal of the strains—and delights—of a forbidden relationship, All the Rivers (published in Israel as Borderlife) is a love story and a war story, a New York story and a Middle East story, an unflinching foray into the forces that bind us and divide us. “The land is the same land,” Hilmi reminds Liat. “In the end all the rivers flow into the same sea.”