Three Floors Up

By Eshkol Nevo; translated from Hebrew by Sondra Silverston

This book tells three stories set on different floors of a suburban Tel Aviv apartment building.

While these neighbors see each other in passing, leaving the ATM, or through shutters being closed, there’s little direct interaction. The plots of the stories don’t intermingle.

Arnon Levanoni, his wife Ayelet and their daughters Ofri and Yaeli live on the first floor across the hall from Ruth and Herman, an elderly German couple. Hani Gat lives on the second floor with her daughter Lyri and her son Nimrod. Her husband Asaf is away so often on business that the neighbors secretly nickname her “the Widow.” Devora Edelman, who lives on the third floor, actually is a widow. She and her husband Michael were judges before they retired. She hasn’t seen her troubled son Adar for years, ever since he turned his back on his family, after a tragic accident.

Each of these flawed, struggling characters has suffered losses that threaten to capsize their lives. Arnon’s obsessive protectiveness pushes his marriage to the brink of a break-up. Hani’s long hours alone with her children are testing her sanity. When she opens the door to her brother-in-law Eviatar, a real estate con man sought by the police, she lets him stay for a few days against her better judgment. Devora goes to a demonstration for more affordable housing in downtown Tel Aviv and finds her life changing in unimaginable ways.

The tone is chatty and intimate: In the first story, Arnon is pouring out his heart to an old friend, a writer, whom he hasn’t seen in awhile. Hani tells her story in a letter to her childhood friend Netta, now living and teaching in the United States. Devora finds an old, discarded answering machine with her husband Michael’s voice asking callers to leave a message. She begins leaving messages on the machine telling Michael about the changes in her life.

These are quiet stories with more to unfold after the reader puts down the book. Author Eshkol Nevo doesn’t tie everything up neatly for his characters, but he does leave them with the promise of hope and a better future.

About the Author: Eshkol Nevo (1971 – )

The grandson of Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, for whom he was named, Eshkol Nevo grew up in Jerusalem, Haifa and Detroit.

He has published a collection of short stories, five novels and a work of nonfiction. In addition to THREE FLOORS UP, two other of Nevo’s novels have been translated into English:HOMESICK (2008), WORLD CUP WISHES (2010) and NEULAND (2014).

Homesick was awarded the Book Publishers Association Gold Prize in 2005 and the FFI-Raymond Wallier Prize at the Salon du Livre in Paris in 2008. He was awarded membership in the Israel Cultural Excellence Foundation in 2008. That appointment is one of Israel’s highest recognitions for excellence in the arts.

Nevo studied copywriting at the Tirza Granot School and psychology at Tel Aviv University. He teaches creative writing and thinking at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Tel Aviv University, Sapir College and the Open University of Israel.


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