OUT OF THE BLUE
Don Quixote meets Catch-22 in modern Israel.
Ari Lieberman's OUT OF THE BLUE begins with Shmunik, a somewhat pathetic security guard at a mall in the southern Israeli town of Ashkelon, who is pining for his lost girlfriend and long-lost mother. Having given up on his dream of becoming a famous painter, he feels lost and unaccomplished until he meets Tom, a deranged Army general who speaks in biblical verse and believes the earth is under attack from celestial creatures reminiscent of the aliens in the Space Invaders video game. Tom and Shmunik set off on a quest to reclaim their lost loves. Tom's old flame Smadar is a vulgar middle-aged poet and the mother of Noga, the star of a reality TV show in which she is held captive in a Galilean tower, waiting for one of six contestants to liberate her. Tom, who sees no distinction between reality and reality TV, breaks onto the set and frees the damsel himself. This sets in motion a series of events borne of the conflict between the bogus reality manufactured by television and the inner reality of these innocent dreamers: the shooting of Noga, and of Adam, an Arab intellectual who wants to infiltrate Israeli society with an army of pretend-Jews, and the struggle of the IDF Chief of Staff who battles the Magnolia-like phenomenon of dead Arab bodies falling from Israeli skies. Through these ironic, preposterous and sometimes appalling incidents, the novel deftly addresses the traumatic consequences of war, specifically the 1982 Lebanon War, and the continuing strains between Jews and Arabs. Ari Lieberman was born in Mexico and grew up in Israel. He is the author of OUT OF THE BLUE and editor of the collaborative storytelling project uprightdown.com. He teaches comparative literature at the University of Georgia.