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Three Floors Up
Cover of Three Floors Up
Three Floors Up
A Novel
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Set in an upper-middle-class Tel Aviv apartment building, this best-selling and warmly acclaimed Israeli novel examines the interconnected lives of its residents, whose turmoils, secrets, unreliable confessions, and problematic decisions reveal a society in the midst of an identity crisis.
On the first floor, Arnon, a tormented retired officer who fought in the First Intifada, confesses to an army friend with a troubled military past how his obsession about his young daughter's safety led him to lose control and put his marriage in peril. Above Arnon lives Hani, known as "the widow," whose husband travels the world for his lucrative job while she stays at home with their two children, increasingly isolated and unstable. When her brother-in-law suddenly appears at their door begging her to hide him from loan sharks and the police, she agrees in spite of the risk to her family, if only to bring some emotional excitement into her life. On the top floor lives a former judge, Devora. Eager to start a new life in her retirement, Devora joins a social movement, desperately tries to reconnect with her estranged son, and falls in love with a man who isn't what he seems.
A brilliant novelist, Eshkol Nevo vividly depicts how the grinding effects of social and political ills play out in the psyche of his flawed yet compelling characters, in often unexpected and explosive ways.
Set in an upper-middle-class Tel Aviv apartment building, this best-selling and warmly acclaimed Israeli novel examines the interconnected lives of its residents, whose turmoils, secrets, unreliable confessions, and problematic decisions reveal a society in the midst of an identity crisis.
On the first floor, Arnon, a tormented retired officer who fought in the First Intifada, confesses to an army friend with a troubled military past how his obsession about his young daughter's safety led him to lose control and put his marriage in peril. Above Arnon lives Hani, known as "the widow," whose husband travels the world for his lucrative job while she stays at home with their two children, increasingly isolated and unstable. When her brother-in-law suddenly appears at their door begging her to hide him from loan sharks and the police, she agrees in spite of the risk to her family, if only to bring some emotional excitement into her life. On the top floor lives a former judge, Devora. Eager to start a new life in her retirement, Devora joins a social movement, desperately tries to reconnect with her estranged son, and falls in love with a man who isn't what he seems.
A brilliant novelist, Eshkol Nevo vividly depicts how the grinding effects of social and political ills play out in the psyche of his flawed yet compelling characters, in often unexpected and explosive ways.
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About the Author-
  • Born in Jerusalem in 1971, Eshkol Nevo studied copywriting at the Tirza Granot School and psychology at Tel Aviv University. Today, Nevo owns and co-manages the largest private creative writing school in Israel and is considered the mentor of many upcoming young Israeli writers. His novels have all been top bestsellers in Israel. His novel Homesick (Chatto & Windus, 2008) was a finalist for the prestigious Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, World Cup Wishes was a finalist for the Kritikerpreis der Jury der Jungen Kritiker (Austria, 2011), and Neuland was included in The Independent's list of Books of the Year in Translation (2014)
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    August 14, 2017
    Israeli bestseller Nevo (Neuland) returns with a transporting novel about the furtive lives of three tenants in a suburban Tel Aviv apartment building. On the first floor, Arnon attempts to turn the teenage granddaughter of his senile neighbor into a “potential mole” who will discover if the man has molested Arnon’s daughter. The tables are turned when Arnon’s advances are misconstrued, throwing his marriage into jeopardy. On the next floor up, a housewife named Hani, against her absentee husband’s wishes, hides her brother-in-law Eviatar from the loan sharks who are pursuing him. “I don’t have the strength to fake the happiness that is no longer inside me,” Hani writes to a friend, though she admits that something in the way Eviatar “acted with my kids made me feel desire again.” Above her, a retired judge, Devora, dictates messages to her deceased husband about a former Mossad agent intent on reuniting her with an estranged son. Nevo’s narrators range from despicable to endearing, and he handles each with a sure hand, resulting in a multifaceted narrative that is easy to be carried away by.

  • Kirkus

    August 1, 2017
    Three residents of an Israeli apartment building narrate their worries and woes.Nevo (Neuland, 2014, etc.) is a bestselling Israeli author, and his most recent book to be translated into English makes it easy to understand why. His writing is compelling--actually, it's compulsively readable, as the cliche goes. This novel takes place in a suburb outside Tel Aviv, an area one character labels "bourgeoisville." It is split along three narrative lines, each corresponding to a character who lives on one of three floors in the same apartment building. On the first floor, there is Arnon, a father who grows obsessed by the idea that his young daughter may have been molested. On the second floor is Hani, a mother and a wife whose husband is always away on business. Devora, a retired judge, lives on the third floor; her husband has died, her son is estranged, and she must build a new life for herself. Nevo uses Devora to remind us, not so subtly, that these three characters match up rather neatly to Freud's model of consciousness: Nevo has given us the id, the ego, and the superego, all in one novel. Fine; but though we're drawn in by each of these characters and their various troubles and travails, in the end we're left wanting. Sure, the stories are engaging (Arnon, Hani, and Devora each speak directly to a different "you"), but the book as a whole doesn't satisfy. "Do you understand?" the characters say, again and again. "Can you understand?" Yes, of course, you'll want to respond; but so what? Nevo is a funny, engaging writer, but his new book settles for cleverness without reaching for something more genuinely moving.

    COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    September 1, 2017

    What do former Israeli officer Arnon, off-kilter mother-of-two Hani, and newly retired judge Devora Edelman have in common? They all live in the same upscale Tel Aviv apartment building, and though their lives barely touch, their stories do, as best-selling Israeli author Nevo (Neuland) explores issues of personal and parental responsibility in a smart and absorbing read. On the first floor, Arnon and wife Ayelet have been depending on elderly neighbors Herman and Ruth to babysit for older daughter Ofri, but Arnon begins suspecting Herman of abusing Ofri sexually, and his obsessiveness drives away his wife and ends up putting Herman in the hospital. On the second floor, Hani writes somewhat hysterically to a friend, chronicling her marital difficulties and explaining why she let her on-the-run brother-in-law into her house and finally her bed when her workaholic husband was away. On the third floor, Devora speaks to her dead husband, explaining how she became involved in student protests and was eventually reintroduced to their long-estranged son. Was Herman really guilty? Are Hani's accusations about her husband reasonable? What really caused the break between the Edelmans and their son? VERDICT Nevo shows us life's complexities in a thoroughly satisfying read.

    Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    October 1, 2017
    Three residents of a three-floor Tel Aviv apartment building reveal what really goes on behind closed doors. First-floor-domiciled Arnon tells an old army buddy that his young daughter was abused by their neighbor, his marriage is suffering, and the neighbor's teenage Parisian granddaughter is about to cause an implosion. Upstairs, Hani scrawls an explosive epistle to faraway confidante Netta, revealing envy over Netta's more fulfilling life, then divulges how the isolation of motherhood incited desperate decisions regarding her estranged brother-in-law. On the third floor, retired judge Devora tells all to her late husband via answering machine messages; at 66, she finally claims her own agency when young demonstrators for social change urgently seek her legal expertise. Best-selling Israeli novelist Nevo, his Hebrew fluidly translated by Sondra Silverston, cleverly infuses these quotidian albeit schadenfreude-inducing dramas with numerology ( everything is in threes ), Freudian analysis (the three floors up of id, ego, superego), the power of secrets (plus the greater threat of revenge), and the literary necessity for confessions ( if there is no one to listenthere is no story ).(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2017, American Library Association.)

  • Amos Oz, internationally bestselling author of A Tale of Love and Darkness "[Neuland is] a fascinating novel, a combination of utopia and dystopia--but above all, it is a moving story about one family, about love and loss and loneliness."
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A Novel
Eshkol Nevo
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