The Clay Urn by Paul Rabinowitz
The Clay Urn follows the story of Ari and Ilana—two Israelis in the 1980s—as they meet, fall in love, and grapple with their ideologies on the war against the Intifada. Ari grew up trying to fill the void his father had left behind after being killed in combat. Ari was given the option to serve within the comfort of a desk job, but instead chose to fight on the front lines. Ilana, artistic and intuitive, is a counselor in the army who often dreams of what life could offer beyond a place where fighting is fueled by bloodlines.
During her service, Ilana is continuously troubled by the mental toll the war takes on both the agitated men she sees returning from combat zones, and the families and civilians caught in the middle. For Ari, serving in the army acts as a trigger, causing him to relive moments with his father—both good and bad. As his duties heighten, he turns to Ilana for counsel.
When Ilana’s service ends, she leaves for New York City, needing to put space between her and the conflict, even if that means leaving her relationship with Ari behind. For Ari, the separation causes him to retreat emotionally, and leaves him without a support system when a mission he’s leading goes awry and ends in bloodshed. He is haunted by the images of the wounded and dead—carnage that happened under his watch—and he closes off the world and any help that might be offered to him.
When Ilana eventually returns home to Israel, she and Ari find each other in different states. As the two of them struggle to reconnect, they are thrust into the mercy of the war, leaving their lives completely shattered in the wake of the violence.
Year first published: 2020